Ben Matthews, Hayden Trupp and Bobby Murphy have returned home, and now the UAA hockey team hopes to cash in some returns from those locals.
Matthews, a defenseman from Chugiak, and Trupp and Murphy, both forwards from Anchorage, are among eight freshmen in the Seawolves' incoming class. That gives UAA six Alaskans -- senior defenseman Scott Warner, senior forward Tyler Currier and sophomore forward Kory Roy, all of Anchorage, are returners -- and that marks the most under eighth-year head coach Dave Shyiak since his 2007-08 club featured eight Alaskans.
The latest Alaskan additions and the other freshmen arrive at a time when the Seawolves seem to have ample openings in the lineup. Graduations and player departures lopped 10 players from the crew that started the season with UAA in 2011-12.
Based on the returners' games played last season, the Seawolves should have at least three forward spots, and one or two spots on the blue line, that need to be filled.
"Everyone has a role, and being the young guy, you have to fill any role you can,'' Trupp said. "Do the best you can, and get better at it.''
This season's first glimpse of the Seawolves comes Saturday night, when they play an exhibition game against the University of Regina at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.
Trupp, 20, is back home after spending last season with Alexandria (Minn.) in the North American Hockey League, where he earned 7-30--37 totals in 53 games on the junior circuit. The 5-foot-8, 162-pounder spent the two seasons prior to that in the British Columbia Hockey League.
Matthews, 21, is a 6-2, 216-pounder who is coming off three seasons in the BCHL. He put up 6-17--23 totals in 60 games with Prince George last season.
Like the other Alaskans returning home, he's excited to play for his hometown team.
"It's a privilege, something I wanted since I was a little kid,'' Matthew said. "It felt like juniors was my time to leave and now I'm back for good.''
Like Trupp and Matthews, Murphy, 21, is back home living with his family again. The 5-10, 170-pounder spent the last two seasons on the Peninsula with the NAHL's Kenai River Brown Bears. Last season, he earned 10-19--29 totals in 47 games and, after a knee injury, returned in time for the playoffs.
Murphy was proactive in getting a shot at Division I hockey -- he said he emailed UAA coach Dave Shyiak at the start of last season and let the bench boss know he wanted to wear green and gold.
"I made it a goal of mine to play Division I, and I wanted to play for these guys,'' Murphy said.
One of Regina's goaltenders is Andrew Hayes, who was in training camp with the Alaska Aces last season.
Hayes this season is 1-0 with a 3.43 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. After joining the Cougars during last season, Hayes was 0-4 with a 4.10 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
Open dates for the UAA jersey raffle conducted at home games are open for squirt teams, and U-10 teams and below. Contact Richard Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.