A tradition that has been upheld by the University of Alaska, Anchorage vs. Fairbanks hockey teams will continue for the second time this season, in addition to the first duel the teams had in Fairbanks.
The players and head coach Matt Thomas are looking forward to being back.
“It’s been a while since we have been home… it allowed the players to focus on their academics, but we’re excited to be back,” Thomas said.
The Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup had been played for years to prove the dominant collegiate Alaska hockey team. Each season, the cup comes down to a total of four games: Two of them played on UAF’s home field and the other two played on UAA’s home at the Sullivan Arena. Their home games have always been some of the best.
“We know it’s about wins right now, but we have to find a way to get them.. they’re coming into our arena and we’re going to make it difficult for anyone who comes in here,” Thomas said.
For the current season, the initial two games were already played in Fairbanks on Dec. 9 and 10. Splitting the current cup standings, one win went to each of the teams.
Dec. 9 was the kick-off of the 2017 Governor’s cup, game one of two gave UAA the beginning advantage with a lead early in the first period, credited to sophomore defensemen Eric Roberts.
The addition of two more points in the second period to give the Seawolves a comfortable lead was secured by senior forward Brad Duwe, assisted by the Renouf twins, Nathan and Jonah, followed by a come-up by senior defensemen Chase Van Allen.
The game was steadily over after that, UAF only managing one point before time ran out.
The cup continued on Dec. 10 with a win to UAF. The Nanooks proved to be a lot more aggressive than the previous night, knocking out 3 points before the Seawolves even came close to the net.
Nearing the end of the third period, the Seawolves didn’t look like they were coming back with a miracle, but junior defensemen Tanner Johnson dropped in for 1 point, that gave the Seawolves a little redemption but not enough to win.
With a current 2016-17 standing of 1-1, the Seawolves and Nanooks get another chance to battle it out. However, over the years, UAF is far into the lead over the Seawolves. During the 2015-16 season, UAA wasn’t able to win a single game over the course of four games. While UAF took three of the wins and the fourth game resulted in a tie.
A year earlier, in the 2014-15 season, the cup was again split. Both the Seawolves and the Nanooks took the win twice each. For a total running score, the Seawolves only have a meager three wins against the six wins that the Nanooks were able to accomplish.
In contrast, the Seawolves have done noticeably better this season compared to others, therefore having a better chance at redeeming themselves. Every since the beginning of the season with budget constraints, the Seawolves have had many obstacles to get over and get to this point.
“This whole season more than any other seasons we have felt a lot more pressure, honestly than any other season,” Thomas said.
With already seven wins on the season this year with several games to go compared to the 11 total all season in 2015-16 and seven total in the 2014-15 season. The Seawolves are on track to win as many, if not more, this year that last year.
Coming into the Governor’s Cup will be the last regular season games for the team, junior Tad Kozun knows how important these games are to the post-season success.
“We really want to make playoffs because we know we can beat the top teams, we have had successful games against them, which has been a huge confidence booster for us,” Kozun said.
The team faces off against UAF for Governor’s Cup glory on Feb. 24 and 25 in the Sullivan Arena at 7:07 pm.