FAIRBANKS-Ice Dogs start a new season-the postseason. The playoff series between the Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears in the Midwest division semis starts tomorrow night.
Kenai is resurrected getting a new lease on life after Coulee Region's loss on Sunday gave the Brown Bears the last playoff spot. Forward Brett Gervais and his team have made a note of the intensity level need to overcame an initial Kenai River surge.
"You know they're going to come in fired up. You know, they got a second chance and it's a new season so they're coming with tons of energy. We got to match that and you know, up it. You know, right off the gate, right off the get-go so we'll see what happens," Gervais said.
Fairbanks is 8-2 in their last 10 games including last weekend's Kenai sweep. But the two losses were to Kenai who held Fairbanks to two goals in their wins. The Ice Dogs still think that their defense and how they play together will be a big key to not just game one but the best of five series.
"It starts with just everyone just working back to get back. Our forwards do a great job of back checking, our goalies are great in the net and our D-we think defense first," Ice Dogs defenseman Duggie Lagrone.
On paper the Ice Dogs are the dominate team having won the NAHL regular season title and the season series over Kenai 13-3. Even with that success Ice Dogs goalie Kevin Aldridge will be making his NAHL playoff debut. He has 31 wins which is ranked second in the league. Last season he sat and watched Steve Perry get the work in net. Aldridge thinks what we picked up from observing will help.
"I didn't play in playoffs last year but I think you can learn a little bit from sitting back and watching. So I'm just going to try to play hard and see what happens," Aldridge said.
The teams know each other too well but the Ice Dogs are more or less playing a faceless opponent in game one.
"You always want to be executing better at a higher level each game. I think we're worried about ourselves more than anything right now and making sure we're playing the game the right way and playing it hard," assistant coach Paul Kirtland said.