Anchorage — Seven Alaska youth teams open play Wednesday, in locations from coast to coast, at USA Hockey's National Championships.
Two of those clubs -- the U-18 Alaska Junior Aces, who open play in Pittsburgh, and the U-19 Alaska All Stars girls, who compete in San Jose, Calif. -- are skating in tournaments classified Tier I, the highest level of youth hockey in the country.
Five other teams are competing in Tier II. Those clubs are the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association's Ice Hawks and the Alaska North Stars in the boys U-16 tournament in Troy, Mich.; the Alaska All Stars U-14 boys, who play in Charlotte, N.C.; the U-18 Alaska Wolves, who are in Hartford, Conn.; and the U-14 Alaska All Stars girls, playing in San Jose.
Additionally, two Anchorage skaters are competing at nationals for Shattuck-St. Mary's, a prep school in Minnesota that develops some of the best players in the nation. Defenseman Truman Reed of Anchorage plays for the Shattuck team that will play in the boys U-18 Tier I tournament in Pittsburgh and forward Taylor Schwalbe of Anchorage plays for the Shattuck U-16 girls, who will play in the Tier I tournament in San Jose.
According to USA Hockey, five Alaska teams have won youth national titles.
Last spring, the Alaska Blue Devils boys won the U-12 2A title in Tier II -- the U-12 national championships no longer exist -- and the Alaska Icebreakers won the girls U-14 Tier II national championship.
In Tier I, the U-17 Alaska All Stars boys and U-19 Alaska Firebirds girls both seized national championships. Also, the Alaska All Stars boys won the 1990 U-14 championship.