Ice Dogs look to lean on returners for 2019-20 season

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Believe it or not, it is time for Ice Dogs Hockey.

The anticipation is over, as the Dogs opened up training camp earlier this week.

Fairbanks held their second of three intrasquad scrimmages Tuesday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. They’ll be hosting their final scrimmage Thursday at 5:30, and it is free to the public.

With 32 players at camp and 23 only roster slots, many of these players are still fighting for their spot on the team.

Head coach Trevor Stewart is going into his ninth season leading the program, and touched on what he likes from his boys so far through training camp.

"It's just improvement from Sunday night's scrimmage to tonight’s scrimmage. There was a lot of stuff that guys grabbed the concepts of that we handed to them the first couple days, they were implemented tonight so it's a good thing moving forward for us” Stewart said after the scrimmage.

This year, we have a returning goaltender and we didn't have one of those last year. We have some guys that produced in the league (NAHL) already, so we are looking for them to take that next step, and that is definitely something we didn't have last year." Stewart added.

The Ice Dogs are returning several players from last year's Midwest Division Champion roster, including a couple of players coming back for their third year in Trenton Woods and Jack Johnston.

“I have been here two years, two years before, so, just watching the other leaders and trying to be the best leader I can be for this team,” Woods said. “I think we got a good group coming back, we got a lot of good returners, so it should be a good year, start it off the right way; strong."

Johnston was an assistant captain for the Ice Dogs last year, and will be looking to be in a similar leadership role this season.

“A lot of guys came before us being in leadership positions and just being able to be in the same place is big, just following what they did to put us in a position to learn now, motivating the young guys to get better every day and bring their A-game to the rink.” Johnston said.

The Ice Dogs players come from all over the map, and get together for one common goal, while having some fun.

“Honestly, just playing the game we love. We get to come up here for a couple months every year and just play hockey, so we might as well make the most of it. When the games start, that's when the fun happens, so until then, we'll work." Johnston said.

The Ice Dogs' prepare for their 23rd season of junior hockey, after finishing 45-18-3-4 last season and falling in the national championship game. The road back to the Robertson Cup will begin September 18th at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota.

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