Anchorage announces new Junior hockey team

Hockey players
UAA’s hockey team practices in Oct. 2013. (Josh Edge/APRN)

Anchorage will get a new Junior hockey team for the 2021-22 season. 

The Anchorage Wolverines will join two other Alaska teams in the North American Hockey League, one of the top-tier Junior leagues in the continent. 

“The Anchorage Bowl has been starving for this,” said Darryl Thompson, president of the Alaska Hockey Association.

Several Alaskan investors announced the joint purchase of the franchise online on Monday. They include Aaron Schutt, president and CEO of Doyon Corporation, and Ryan Binkley, a businessman whose family owns the Anchorage Daily News. Owners also include Kai Binkley Sims, an engineer and former school board candidate from Anchorage, and John Ellsworth Jr. and Jay Frawner, both of whom own contracting businesses in Anchorage. 

Franchises in the North American Hockey League can cost upwards of $350,000, according to news reports in other states. 

The Ice Dogs from Fairbanks and the Kenai River Brown Bears currently play in the league. Thompson said after the Anchorage Aces closed its franchise in 2003, aspiring hockey players in Anchorage have been without role models. 

“For the development of youth hockey, always exciting to have another program for the younger kids to go view and be inspired about,” he said. 

The team hasn’t announced a roster, but Thompson said the team will likely conduct tryouts in Alaska and other states around the country. That will give locals a chance to shine, even if they can’t travel out of state for tryouts.

Players in NAHL teams don’t get paid salaries, but do get their equipment paid for, according to the league website. Many participants have gone on to play in the National Hockey League. 

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