A weekend to remember for UAA hockey

For the first time in over 900 days the UAA Hockey program is back on the ice.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 8:05 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the first time in over 900 days, the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves hockey program hit the ice in an exhibition game against Simon Fraser University, and then in the green and gold intersquad scrimmage.

It was like a scene from a movie. After years of rebuilding the program, head coach Matt Shasby and the new edition of the Seawolves hockey team took the ice on Friday night.

“It was a moment that you kind of dreamt about and you had a vision for for seven, eight months,” Shasby said. “When it finally came true it exceeded my expectations. Definitely had tears in the eyes when you see that the crowd had turned out and then just watching our guys get out and compete.”

The Seawolves started playing in the Seawolf sports complex during the 2019-2020 season before their program was cut by the University of Alaska Board of Regents in the fall of 2020.

Since then, they have made some major upgrades. A video board has been installed on the wall opposite the stands, and a new sound system has been put in for better game presentation. They have also opened up the area around the rink for standing, bringing fans and students closer to the game.

“It was all I could do to not tear up at that point in time,” Kathie Bethard of Save Seawolf Hockey said. “I was so happy to have that team back on the ice.”

While the community coming out and seeing the Seawolves for the first time was the main goal of the exhibition and scrimmage, it also served a very important purpose to the UAA hockey coaching staff, they now have game tape to break down.

Up until that point, they had yet to see their 26 new players actually play in a competitive game, so even though they would fall to SFU 1-0, it was a moral victory.

“We learned a lot about our team. We are able to make lineup adjustments going into the weekend,” Shasby said. “We’re able to make adjustments on the identity of our hockey team and what we need to clean up to be ready for Western Michigan”

The exhibition on Friday night was followed by a green and gold intersquad scrimmage on Saturday where a stick sale was also held before the game. The support was noticeable from the fans, and the UAA hockey program hopes that it continues as their long journey of saving the program has now ended and the first steps of a new journey have begun.

”It’s our university it’s Anchorage, it’s the Anchorage university,” Bethard said. “It’s the University of Alaska Anchorage, we want to see this university thrive. We want our kids to want to come here and so the way you make that happen is by making it an exciting environment and the only way to do that is by everyone in the community supporting the athletic events that we have on campus. That’s not just hockey, that’s volleyball, that’s basketball that’s women’s gymnastics, skiing, whatever. We should support the student-athletes at this university”

UAA Hockey will get back on the ice for their first regular season game of the season against Western Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 1, with the puck dropping at 6:07 p.m. at the Seawolf Sports Complex.

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