NHL offers awards for best ice hockey dogs of the year

The North American National Hockey League (NHL) is giving awards to the best dogs involved in the ice hockey season.

Decided by fans as part of the Fan Choice Awards, there are two categories – Best Dog and Best Team Dog – with four nominees in each.

In this case Best Team Dog refers to the best dog owned by a team in the NHL, where adopting puppies has become a growing trend.

The dogs act as mascots for their teams and are often seen playing with the players, but many are also training to become service dogs later in life.

One adorable and popular example of such a trainee is nominee Barclay of the St Louis Blues, who is partial to joining in with practice.

Another nominee at home on the ice is Ranger who, perhaps unsurprisingly, lends his support to the New York Rangers.

Ranger is training to become an autism service dog, helping autistic people with their daily lives.

Radar of the New York Islanders and Rookie of the Ottawa Senators complete the line-up of nominees for Best Team Dog.

Meanwhile, in the Best Dog category those up for awards include Riziy, owned by Russian Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin.

And San Jose Sharks defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic has all three of his pups nominated as a collective.

Kelly, Nicky and Macy are all rescue dogs and from the pictures he has shared of them it’s fair to say they are his best friends.

Simba and Lola, owned by Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Ralph, who lives with Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat, make up the rest of the Best Dog category.

The NHL Fan Choice Awards has 20 categories in total, including Best Goalie Mask, Best Beard and GIF of the Year, along with the more traditional Save of the Year and Goal of the Year.

Voting ends for the contest on June 15.

- Press Association

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