FAIRBANKS, AK-Tomorrow night in the Big Dipper a second season starts for the Ice Dogs. It's put up or shut up time. Your Ice Dogs host the rival Kenai Brown bears at 7:30 tomorrow for Game one of this five game series.
The Brown Bears split the last two Fairbanks home games of the regular season. Kenai is led by Ryan Walker the reigning NAHL west division player of the week and Zac Lazarro who is has been a thorn in the Ice Dogs, registering a hat trick in Soldotna and a decisive goal the gave Kenai in 8-7 edge in the ERA Cup. Eventually the Ice Dogs won the ERA Cup on a tiebreaker.
But the Ice Dogs have thrown all of that out ice rink, it's playoff time and they feel that the key to capturing a win in game one against this very familiar opponent is the attention to detail.
"It's a new season and its play-off hockey, the mistakes are magnified. They need to be quickly forgotten about as well, so our focus has mainly just been on what we need to do in terms of fine tuning our game to be successful," Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said.
Fairbanks goalie Steve Perry explained the attention to detail that Stewart has been stressing in this week of practice.
"The thing that coach always talks about is a neutral zone. With us games are lost and won in the neutral zone and I feel that if we take care of the puck then we should be in a good spot," Perry said.
Ice Dogs forward Andy Lee says the team is energized for the playoffs even though it's with the Brown Bears.
Yeah, everyone's just focused a little more and the energy level is just higher for everyone. Practice paces up and it's just exciting," Lee said.