By Josh Kaskinen | Logo: NM Ice Wolves
Hockey fans in Albuquerque, New Mexico are still waiting to see their new team earn their first win on home ice. The Ice Wolves have looked a lot closer to reaching that elusive goal in recent games, getting their first ever win two weeks ago in Texas against the Odessa Jackalopes, and playing fairly well in two losses last week at home against the Shreveport Mudbugs.
The Ice Wolves continue their long homestand this weekend with two games against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Ice Dogs have been playing incredibly well of late, winning eight of their previous ten games, including a road sweep last weekend in Amarillo. Fairbank’s strong play has kept them among the leaders of the Midwest Division, and at 9-4-0-1, they are only a single point behind the division leading Chippewa Steel.
Though the Ice Dogs have been strong, their long stay in the southwest might impact how well they play this weekend. New Mexico has been doing a lot of things well recently, including strong penalty kills and outshooting their opponents. This weekend would be a prime opportunity for New Mexico to earn a statement win in front of their home crowd.
The Ice Dogs have a strong roster that features players with lots of junior hockey experience and five players who are committed to play NCAA Division 1 Hockey (Dylan Abbott- Minnesota State, Parker Brown- Air Force, Luke Ciolli- Army, Lucas Erickson- St. Lawrence, and Jasper Lester- Air Force). Should New Mexico find a win or two this weekend, it will certainly be a feat of which they can be proud.
Ice Dogs Players to Watch:
- #19 Jack Johnston- The 20 year old is playing well in his final season of junior hockey. With seven goals and nine assists through 14 games, the St. Paul, Minnesota native is leading the team through 16 games, and is ahead of pace to reach his career high season scoring mark. In his third season with the Ice Dogs, Johnston is contributing night in and night out.
- #21 Luke Ciolli– In his second season with Fairbanks, Ciolli is off to a strong start with 10 points in 14 games. He had a very strong year last year, scoring 18 goals and 20 assists. He has scored in three of the Ice Dogs last four games. The Colorado Springs native is committed to play collegiate hockey for Army.
- #26 Oliver Kjær– The Danish forward is in the midst of his first season in North America. He has eleven points through 14 games in the form of four goals and seven assists. He has not had a game yet this season in which he registered less than two shots on goal, so he is going to be a key contributor to the Ice Dog’s offense.
- #8 Dylan Abbott- The Minnesota State commit and Wasilla, Alaska native is playing exactly how you’d want a two-way defenseman to play. So far this season, he has registered 23 shots on goal, seven assists and a rating of +8. If he continues to play well on defense and set up his teammates on offense, he will have a great career in juniors and beyond.
For the Ice Wolves, look for continued strong play from Alex Dominique, Emil Gabrielson and Philip Ekberg. If defensemen such as Keenan Johnson, Keegan Langefels and Sean Henry can play well on both sides of the ice and do their best to limit the number of shots that Ice Wolves’ goaltenders face, New Mexico should put themselves in a strong position to win. With the team running promotions, including schedule magnet and free skating voucher giveaways, it should be an exciting weekend of hockey at Outpost Ice Arena.