Season review: Anchorage Wolverines scored many wins in 2nd year — just not enough to make playoffs

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 7:17 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The North American Hockey League standings will read that the Anchorage Wolverines finished the 2022-23 campaign with 28 wins and a fifth-place finish in the Midwest Division, just missing out on the playoffs.

However, they picked up a number of wins both on and off the ice throughout the season.

Most notably, they won the Alaska Airlines Club 49 Cup, a season-long head-to-head-to-head series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the Kenai River Brown Bears for the first time in the Cup’s existence.

“I thought it was a great way to finish it off here in Alaska,” head coach Evan Trupp said. “I know that the rivalry means a lot to these guys ... It was a good way to wrap up our homestand and to have our captain score the winning goal on a really nice play was kind of the icing on the cake.”

The Wolverines have 12 players from Alaska listed on their roster, which means 12 players got an opportunity to live out a dream by skating in front of their home fans — players like Anchorage’s Revelin Mack.

”It meant a lot. It kind of brought me back to when I was playing for West High here,” Mack said after skating in what was likely his last organized practice in Alaska. “It is crazy, kind of a full circle moment playing in front of the hometown fans, so for the junior career to end this way, it was special for sure.”

Another victory included the success of moving on up, as at least eight players have made collegiate commitments, with more to be announced. Included on that list is Fedya Nikolayenya of Minsk, Belarus, who took a chance on Alaska — and the Anchorage Wolverines — one year ago.

“First time was kind of hard because I didn’t speak English at all, so the boys didn’t understand me, but now, I have kind of improved my English so it is easier for me,” Nikolayenya said.

Nikolayenya finished the season with 16 goals to go with 23 assists for 39 points in 50 games, and quickly found a home in the 49th state, committing to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, but not before skating one more season with the Wolverines at the Ben Boeke Ice Arena.

”The atmosphere here is awesome, really good,” Nikolayenya said. “A lot of people, kids, everyone, every age, it is so fun, so loud, I love it.”

The NAHL Playoffs will conclude with the Robertson Cup Championship May 19-23 in Blaine, Minnesota.