|Alaska Nanooks men's ice hockey|
|University||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|Head coach||Erik Largen|
3rd season, 28–36–8 (.444)
Surface: 200' x 100'
|Colors||Blue and Gold|
|NCAA Tournament appearances|
|1984 (DII), 2010 (vacated)|
|Conference regular season championships|
The Alaska Nanooks men's ice hockey team is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college ice hockey program that represents the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Nanooks were a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) until the conference disbanded after the 2020-21 playing season. They play at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
- 1 History
- 2 Return to Independent Status
- 3 Brice Alaska Goal Rush
- 4 Season-by-season results
- 5 Coaches
- 6 Players
- 7 Nanooks in the NHL
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early history (1925–1973)
Varsity hockey at Alaska-Fairbanks began in 1925. The team played four games during the inaugural 1925–26 season and finished the season with a 3–1–0 record despite having no coach. The program returned in 1932 and for three additional seasons the team operated without a coach as an independent collegiate program. Alfred Bastress joined the Nanooks in 1937 and became the program's first head coach. Bastress led the Nanooks for four seasons. The team played the 1939–40 season again with no coach and Joe Gerlach coached the team during the 1941–42 season, splitting both games the team played that season. The program was suspended during World War II and returned for the 1949–50 season.
The team went through six coaches through the 1950s before Bill Daltri took over behind the bench in 1960. Daltri led the Nanooks for three seasons, including some of the most successful seasons of the early history of the program. In 1960–61 Daltri's Nanooks finished with a record of 14–2–0 and in the 1961–62 season the team finished 10–1–1. In his final season as head coach Daltri's Nanooks won all 8 games of the 1962–63 season. The program would go through another period of coaching turnovers, going through 9 coaches in a ten-year period from 1963–1973.
Division II era (1973–1985)
Following the 1972–73 season the program moved from an independent NCAA Division I team to NCAA Division II. The team had its ups and downs after the move to Division II, the Nanooks won 14 games in the 1974–75 season after only winning a single game in the 1973–74 season, their first in Division II. Ric Schafer took over as head coach in 1980 and turned the program around from the turmoil of years past. Despite going 1–23–0 and 4–19–0 in his first two seasons, the Nanooks improved with a 17-win season in 1982–83 and back-to-back 20+ win seasons in 1983–84 and 1984–85. The 1984–85 season was Alaska's last season at the NCAA Division II level.
Great West Hockey Conference (1985–1992)
The Nanooks re-joined NCAA Division I in 1985 and with in-state rival Alaska-Anchorage as well as U.S. International University (San Diego) and Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona) formed the Great West Hockey Conference.
The 1985–86 season marked the return of the Nanooks to NCAA Division I as well as the first season in the history of the program as a member of a conference. Shafer guided the Nanooks to a 17–7–1 overall record and finished the season second in the Great West to U.S. International with a GWHC record of 6–5–1.
Following the 1985–86 season, Northern Arizona dropped their varsity hockey program leaving the Great West with three teams. UAF finished the season with an identical record of the previous season 17–7–1 and finished third in the conference with a GWHC record of 7–9–0.
Don Lucia took over as head coach of the program for the 1987–88 season and under Lucia the Nanooks finished first in the Great West with a conference record of 5–3–0 and won the 1988 Great West Hockey Conference Championship. The team also finished the season with an overall record of 21–10–2, just the third 20+ win season in program history.
U.S. International ended their hockey program in 1988 for similar reasons as Northern Arizona. Historically UAF and in-state rival Alaska-Anchorage have had difficulty scheduling opponents due to the large distances between schools and increased travel expenses. All four GWHC schools required opponents to fly in and fly out. To combat scheduling difficulties, especially with out of conference scheduling, NCAA gives the Alaska schools scheduling advantage, games in Alaska don't count against teams' NCAA game limit. This advantage was not given to NAU or USIU, both schools in the Lower 48.
Recent history (1992–present)
Despite the failure of the USIU and NAU hockey programs and the Great West Hockey Conference both Alaska-Fairbanks and Alaska-Anchorage programs continued, returning to independent Division I members. Anchorage later joined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1994.
Don Lucia continued as head coach of the Nanooks in the 1992–93 season. On January 12, 1992, after four and a half seasons as an independent team following the collapse of the GWHC, Alaska-Fairbanks was accepted into the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) as an affiliate member for the 1993–94 season. In addition to the off-ice success, Lucia led the Nanooks to a program high 23 wins. Lucia left to become head coach of Colorado College and later Minnesota.
Dave Laurion replaced Lucia as head coach in 1993 and guided the Nanooks to a program best 24–13–1. and on May 12, 1994 Alaska Fairbanks became a full member of the CCHA for the 1995–96 season Laurion was followed by three coaches over the next nine seasons, Guy Gadowsky for four seasons, Travis MacMillan for three seasons, followed by a short one season stint from Doc DelCastillo.
Dallas Ferguson became the 25th head coach in program history in 2008 taking over from DelCastillo. Ferguson led the Nanooks to a historic season in his second behind the bench at UAF. The season marked the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 2010. UAF received an at-large bid despite losing in the Quarterfinals of the 2010 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament to Northern Michigan two games to none, losing 4–3 and 5–1. The at-large bid placed the No. 13 ranked Nanooks into the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Massachusetts against No. 1 ranked Boston College in the first round of the tournament. The Eagles ended the Nanooks season in a close game that saw UAF come up short 3–1. Despite the loss one of the highlights of the game was the UAF defense shutting down the high scoring top line of Boston College with the help of freshman goaltender Scott Greenham making 29 saves.
In the summer of 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced intentions to begin sponsoring men's ice hockey in 2013, followed by Miami announcing the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for 2013 with five other schools breaking from the WCHA. The realignment continued on July 20, 2011, when Northern Michigan was approved for membership in the WCHA beginning with the 2013–2014 season. On August 23, 2011 members of the WCHA and CCHA met in Chicago, Illinois in reaction to the 2011 college hockey realignment. The WCHA then sent invitations to the five remaining CCHA schools. The Nanooks quickly accepted their invitation to join the league for the 2013–14 season, followed by several other CCHA members.
In 2011 administrative officials at Alaska discovered that the school had failed to properly monitor the academic eligibility of several players from multiple sports dating back to 2007. The violations were immediately brought to the attention of the NCAA and an investigation began to determine the size and scope of the failure. In 2014 the NCAA concluded their findings and determined that UAF was 'lacking in institutional control' and had failed to update an 'inadequate compliance system' despite warnings to that effect. The majority of the violations were from players either not declaring a major, not accruing enough credits towards their declared major(s) or junior college transfers failing to meet academic eligibility standards. The school admitted guilt and was required to pay a fine, suspend several scholarships and forfeit all wins and ties in games where ineligible players participated. As a result, the ice hockey program now has no wins from 2007–08 through the 2011–12 season and was forced to vacate their lone NCAA tournament appearance in 2010.
Return to Independent Status
The team, after surviving several threats to have the program cancelled due to an ongoing state budget crisis in Alaska and the end of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced on February 12, 2021 announced the team would return to being a Division I Independent beginning with the 2021-22 season.
On December 12th the university announced that the team was opting out of the 2020-21 playing season due to the pandemic.
Brice Alaska Goal Rush
The Brice Alaska Goal Rush is one of two annual ice hockey tournaments (along with the Kendall Hockey Classic) that are traditionally played in the first two weeks of the NCAA Division-I season. The Kendall tournament opens the season, and the Alaska Goal Rush is played in the second week. The tournament is held at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, and is hosted by University of Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team.
The tournament takes place over two days and follows a round robin format. The hockey team from the University of Alaska-Anchorage is a regular participant and serves as an unofficial co-host, while two guest schools round out the tournament field every year. Each of the Alaska schools plays one game against the guest teams, but do not play against each other. The invitees do not square off either. The first criteria to determine place order are records, and then goal-differential in the event of any ties.
The tournament began in the fall of 2008, and its title is a play on the historical Alaska Gold Rush. Fairbanks has won the tournament four times (most recently in 2013), and Anchorage has won it twice. No guest team has been able to win the crown yet in its six-year history.
|Year||Champion||Runner-up||3rd Place||4th Place|
|2010||Alaska-Fairbanks||Union, Colorado College||Alaska-Anchorage|
Typically, Alaska has not had much luck in keeping their coaches for very long. The program has had 26 different head coaches in 69 seasons from 1925 to 2018 and played six of those years without a bench boss. This is not only the most overall for any Division I hockey team but it is among the lowest average (2.65 years) for any school in any sport. As of 2018 Dallas Ferguson was the longest-tenured coach in the history of the program, serving for 9 seasons.
All-time coaching records
As of completion of 2019–20 season
|Totals||27 coaches||71 seasons||660–883–96||.432|
†Alaska was retroactively forced to forfeit all wins and ties from 2007–08 through 2011–12 due to player ineligibilities.
As of September 16, 2020.
|#||S/P/C||Player||Class||Pos||Height||Weight||DoB||Hometown||Previous team||NHL rights|
|1||Daniel Allin||Freshman||G||6' 2" (1.88 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||2000-02-11||Edmonton, Alberta||Drumheller (AJHL)||—|
|4||Kristaps Jākobsons||Sophomore||D||6' 0" (1.83 m)||202 lb (92 kg)||1996-12-25||Tukums, Latvia||Zemgale (LHL)||—|
|5||Markuss Komuls||Sophomore||D||5' 10" (1.78 m)||187 lb (85 kg)||1998-01-04||Talsi, Latvia||Kenai River (NAHL)||—|
|6||Didrik Henbrandt||Sophomore||F||5' 10" (1.78 m)||169 lb (77 kg)||1998-04-10||Linköping, Sweden||Minot (NAHL)||—|
|7||Garrett Pyke||Sophomore||D||6' 1" (1.85 m)||190 lb (86 kg)||1999-08-01||Toronto, Ontario||Oakville (OJHL)||—|
|8||Jordan Muzzillo||Junior||D||6' 0" (1.83 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1997-03-24||Capron, Illinois||Springfield (NAHL)||—|
|9||Justin Young||Senior||F||6' 0" (1.83 m)||184 lb (83 kg)||1997-12-23||Leduc, Alberta||Whitecourt (AJHL)||—|
|10||Ēriks Žohovs||Sophomore||F||6' 0" (1.83 m)||196 lb (89 kg)||1997-11-26||Riga, Latvia||Zemgale (LHL)||—|
|11||Brady Risk||Freshman||F||5' 9" (1.75 m)||175 lb (79 kg)||1999-03-16||Medicine Hat, Alberta||Drumheller (AJHL)||—|
|12||Caleb Hite||Junior||F||5' 11" (1.8 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1997-02-11||Grand Blanc, Michigan||Fairbanks (NAHL)||—|
|13||Filip Fornåå Svensson||Sophomore||F||6' 4" (1.93 m)||205 lb (93 kg)||1999-01-05||Linköping, Sweden||Linköpings J20 (J20 SuperElit)||—|
|14||Anton Rubtsov||Freshman||F||5' 10" (1.78 m)||165 lb (75 kg)||1999-03-06||Saint Petersburg, Russia||Shreveport (NAHL)||—|
|15||Antonio DiPaolo||Freshman||F||5' 11" (1.8 m)||190 lb (86 kg)||1999-01-14||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan||Aberdeen (NAHL)||—|
|16||Chase Dubois||Sophomore||F||5' 9" (1.75 m)||160 lb (73 kg)||1998-03-12||Williams Lake, British Columbia||West Kelowna (BCHL)||—|
|17||Colin Doyle||Junior||F||5' 10" (1.78 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1998-05-12||Campbellford, Ontario||Wellington (OJHL)||—|
|18||Riley Murphy||Freshman||F||6' 0" (1.83 m)||192 lb (87 kg)||1999-10-29||Rockford, Michigan||Aberdeen (NAHL)||—|
|20||C)Max Newton (||Senior||F||5' 10" (1.78 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1997-11-14||Vancouver, British Columbia||Cowichan Valley (BCHL)||—|
|23||Roberts Kaļķis||Sophomore||D||6' 1" (1.85 m)||210 lb (95 kg)||1998-12-22||Riga, Latvia||Rīga (MHL)||—|
|24||Harrison Israels||Freshman||F||6' 1" (1.85 m)||200 lb (91 kg)||1999-09-01||Mississauga, Ontario||Oakville (OJHL)||—|
|25||Antti Virtanen||Junior||F||6' 0" (1.83 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1998-03-14||Kittilä, Finland||Sioux Falls (USHL)||—|
|27||Robert Blueger||Sophomore||F||6' 3" (1.91 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1998-08-03||Riga, Latvia||Madison (USHL)||—|
|28||Brayden Nicholetts||Freshman||F||5' 11" (1.8 m)||180 lb (82 kg)||1999-08-27||Spruce Grove, Alberta||Spruce Grove (AJHL)||—|
|29||Chris Jandric||Junior||D||5' 11" (1.8 m)||179 lb (81 kg)||1998-10-03||Prince George, British Columbia||Vernon (BCHL)||—|
|30||Gustavs Dāvis Grigals||Junior||G||6' 2" (1.88 m)||189 lb (86 kg)||1998-07-22||Riga, Latvia||Shreveport (NAHL)||—|
|31||Emil Gransøe||Sophomore||G||5' 10" (1.78 m)||175 lb (79 kg)||1998-09-27||Charlottenlund, Denmark||Topeka (NAHL)||—|
|37||Jakob Breault||Freshman||F||5' 11" (1.8 m)||180 lb (82 kg)||1999-10-04||Acton Vale, Quebec||Aberdeen (NAHL)||—|
|40||Matt Koethe||Freshman||F||5' 10" (1.78 m)||185 lb (84 kg)||1999-09-28||Minnetonka, Minnesota||Fairbanks (NAHL)||—|
Nanooks in the NHL