Hometown hockey heroes

Chase Van Allen, Connor Wright, Alex Jackstadt and Brad Duwe all called Alaska home long before they joined the Seawolf hockey team. Photo credit: Jake Johnson

Hometown boys

The Seawolves hockey team has witnessed an abundance of talented student-athlete’s careers, recorded a studious dynamic among its booster club, tallied over five 20-plus win seasons, and gone 491-657-117 all-time in its 36-year existence.

It’s no wonder many young Anchorage hockey players grow up idolizing the Seawolves.

Young athletes can be seen flooding the Sullivan Arena gates after their own games and practices let out at the nearby Ben Boeke Ice Arena, hoping one day they might play for their hometown college.

For four current Seawolves – this dream came true.

Anchorage natives Alex Jackstadt, Connor Wright, Chase Van Allen, grew up playing with and against one another at various times in their childhood. Brad Duwe was also a familiar teammate to the other three, traveling from hometown Soldotna a few weekends each season for tournaments.

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Brad Duwe

“Its really nice playing locally. You get a few friends and family members that come out to see you play,” Duwe said.

Duwe played for an Alaska All-Star’s traveling hockey team with Van Allen and Wright. He later played much closer to home for the Kenai River Brown Bears with Jackstadt in 2012-13.

Alex Jackstadt

Jackstadt’s career began in Anchorage playing for multiple traveling organizations in town before he packed up and moved to Kenai in pursuit of a hockey career.

Jackstadt spent time in three very competitive junior hockey leagues from 2013-15: the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, and the British Columbian Hockey League. Together, these three leagues make up a good portion of the NHL’s draft prospects. Jackstadt said he was more than happy to accept an invite to play with the Seawolves.

“I didn’t have a lot of other quality offers. When UAA called it was pretty special,” he said.

He received that phone call while a Kenai River Brown Bear — facing off against fellow Anchorage player Wright in the North American Hockey League.

Connor Wright

Wright spent four years also playing junior hockey in the North American Hockey League. Wright got the call in a much more challenging way as the truest version of a walk-on athlete of the four. He showed up to captain skates during the summer workouts on his own time after personally contacting UAA’s coaching staff.

“I actually got dressed in the public locker room for like a month,” Wright said.

Multiple guys dropped off during this test of character, but Wright wouldn’t give up an opportunity to play for his home town. He was rewarded for his overwhelming dedication when he was given a full roster spot and athletic benefits in 2014-15.

Chase Van Allen

Wright played with Van Allen in 2010-11, when the pair spent time playing for the Alaska Avalanche in the North American Hockey League. Van Allen made the jump to the British Columbian Hockey League in 2011-12, before finding his home with the Seawolves the next season. He received his opportunity much differently than some of his teammates in the form of a two weeks notice to report to camp where he would find a roster spot.

Joining forces

The athletes all agreed that this season has been a great time despite team’s losing record. No one on their team wants the season to end yet, and try to work harder each day.

Tenacious freshman like Jackstadt and the wisdom of veterans Duwe and Van Allen also testify to the team’s character.

“Everyone buying into the same idea, the same goal, thats what its gonna take,” Van Allen said.

All four of these Alaskan hometown hockey heroes once had their own favorite Seawolf, and now look forward to being someone else’s inspiration. Wearing the green and gold jerseys they cheered for as kids and hoping to leave their own mark in Seawolf history.

Chase Van Allen, Connor Wright and Alex Jackstadt are all from Anchorage. Brad Duwe calls Soldotna home. Photo credit: Jake Johnson