UAF hockey reacts to UAA’s reinstatement and reviving the rivalry

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:29 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Tuesday, the University of Alaska Anchorage announced the reinstatement of its hockey program after a fundraising effort revived the program - and revived the longstanding rivalry on the ice between UAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The history between Alaska’s lone Division I hockey programs dates back before they were they were Division I programs. UAA began its ice hockey program in 1979, skating against UAF in eight games before the Seawolves joined the Nanooks at the DII level the following year.

During the 1993-94 season, the ‘Governor’s Cup’ was introduced, a four-game series between the in-state rivals that has been in the possession of Anchorage eight times (1995-97, 2000-01, 2007-09) and in the possession of Fairbanks 16 times, including the last 11 years (1994, 1998-99, 2002-06, 2010-2020).

However, the future of the Governor’s Cup and established rivalry has recently been in jeopardy, as UAA proposed to cut the hockey program in August of 2020. A year, thousands of donors and $3 Million later, the battle for state supremacy in collegiate hockey is back on.

“I am excited for Alaska hockey in general,” said UAF head coach Erik Largen, entering his fourth year with the program. “Not just our programs obviously, but all the youth programs too that are in the state.

“As a kid now, you have an opportunity to play on three of the junior teams here [Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Kenai River Brown Bears, Anchorage Wolverines] and then be able to go on and be a Nanook or a Seawolf.”

The Seawolves will return to the ice for the 2022-23 season as an independent program. Although it will be going on three years since their last Governor’s Cup battle when they clash on the ice again, it won’t take much for the rivalry to heat back up.

“It is some of our most intense, most competitive games,” Largen added. “The state of Alaska is a hockey state, Fairbanks is a hockey town, Anchorage is a hockey town and it is good to have that. It is good for the rivalry to be back between the Nanooks and the Seawolves and for us to be able to compete a Governor’s Cup again in 22-23.”

Chris Brown, who was recently hired by UAF as an associate head coach from Augsburg University in Minnesota, spent three seasons on UAA’s bench as an assistant. On just his second day on back in Alaska and on campus, the news broke that Seawolf hockey was saved.

“It is something that was not just personal to me, but good for college hockey,” said Brown. “I met a lot of great people when I was there, know a lot of the alums and recruited players that are still living there, so I am really happy to see that the program is back. It is great for our rivalry and just the opportunities for players in Alaska to be able to stay home and play.”

Next on the agenda for the Seawolves; hire a coach and continue to build community support, outreach and fundraising.

Next on the agenda for the Nanooks; the annual Blue & Gold intrasquad scrimmage September 24 at the Carlson Center, before they welcome in Simon Fraser for an exhibition the following day.

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