JANESVILLE, WI — The Midwest Division’s top rivalry renews tonight when the Janesville Jets and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs open a 10-game regular season series at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The Jets and the Ice Dogs have met in the Robertson Cup Playoffs three consecutive years, and share all of the last three Midwest Division crowns. Four of the NAHL’s 11 NHL Draft picks since 2016 played in this rivalry. The teams combine for three NAHL Organization of the Year titles in the last five seasons (Janesville 2014-15; Fairbanks 2015-16 and 2017-18). Between Rob Proffitt (Ice Dogs’ general manager), Trevor Stewart (Ice Dogs’ head coach), Bill McCoshen (Jets’ president), and Joe Dibble (Jets’ general manager), the organizations’ leadership have also combined for five NAHL yearly titles. Throw in two NAHL MVPs (Jets’ Jakov Novak 2017-18; Ice Dogs’ Todd Burgess 2015-16) and you have one division rivalry with unparalleled accolades and success.
Ask Trevor Stewart or Jets head coach Corey Leivermann, though, about any of this history and they’ll tell you it’s just that: history. As each coach prepares his group for a 7:00pm tilt tonight, 32 of the total 54 players in the two locker rooms are ready for their first taste of this rivalry.
A young, skilled Janesville locker room is home to nine 2002-born players, ranging all positions. From goaltender Grant Riley out, the Jets’ roster includes four ’02 defensemen (Blake Dangos, Grant Hindman, Xavier LaPointe, and Casey Roepke) and four ’02 forwards (Ryan Bottrill, Max Itagaki, Jan Lasak, Isaac Novak). Six more ’01s makes for more than half of this roster aged 18 or younger.
Fairbanks, on the other hand, returns 15 players from last season’s roster, icing a much more veteran group than the Jets. At last week’s NAHL Showcase, the Ice Dogs outshot their opposition in three of four contests, but mustered only a 1-3 record.
Tonight opens a gigantic weekend for both squads. The Ice Dogs are looking to right the ship after a disappointing start to the season, and the Jets are eager to prove that their 3-1 Showcase record is a more accurate assessment than the season-opening losses to the Chippewa Steel.
The two teams will clash in 10 of the Jets’ first 31 contests this season. If there was any love left to lose, it’ll be gone by December 14.
Record: 3-3-0-0 (3rd, Midwest)
Home Record: 0-1-0-0
Last Ten Games: 3-3-0-0
Goals For/Game: 2.83 (12th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.50 (15th)
Shots For/Game: 26.67 (16th)
Shots Against/Game: 26.33 (13th)
Power Play: 14.3% (T-13th)
Penalty Kill: 75.0% (21st)
Top Scorers: F Jackson Sabo (4GP—3G-2A—5TS); F Parker Lindauer (6GP—2G-2A—4PTS); F Nick Nardella (6GP—2G-2A—4PTS); F Luke Wheeler (6GP—0G-4A—4PTS)
Goaltenders: Grant Riley (2-1-0-0; 1.67 GAA; .934 SV%); Cristian Wong-Ramos (1-2-0-0; 3.00 GAA; .889 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Justin Engelkes (Miami); F Jake Dunlap (UMass Amherst); D Grant Hindman (Lake Superior State); F Max Itagaki (RPI); F Parker Lindauer (Northern Michigan); F Nick Nardella (Michigan Tech); F Isaac Novak (Wisconsin); D Casey Roepke (Wisconsin); F Charlie Schoen (Arizona State)
FAIRBANKS ICE DOGS
Record: 1-3-0-0 (6th, Midwest)
Road Record: 0-0-0-0
Last Ten Games: 1-3-0-0
Goals For/Game: 0.75 (26th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.25 (10th)
Shots For/Game: 34.75 (3rd)
Shots Against/Game: 23.50 (6th)
Power Play: 0.0% (T-24th)
Penalty Kill: 92.3% (6th)
Top Scorers: F Mason Plante (3GP—1G-1A—2PTS); F Adam Eisele (4GP—0G-2A—2PTS)
Goaltenders: Austin Ryman (1-0-0-0; 0.00 GAA; 1.00 SV%); Mattias Sholl (0-3-0-0; 3.07 GAA; .890 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: D Dylan Abbott (Minnesota State); F Parker Brown (Air Force); F Luke Ciolli (Army); D Jasper Lester (Air Force)