Blair, Sorenson and Corbett vying for job as UAA hockey coach

dwoody@adn.comApril 12, 2013 

— UAA associate head coach Campbell Blair, former UAA star and current Dimond High head coach Dennis Sorenson, and Air Force associate head coach Mike Corbett have all confirmed they applied for the job as UAA's head hockey coach.

The two-week window for applicants as Seawolves bench boss closed Friday.

The job became available when UAA fired Dave Shyiak two weeks ago, after eight seasons.

Blair, 46, has been in the Seawolves program for seven seasons -- Shyiak brought him on board after Blair served as an assistant coach for five seasons at Maine, where he previously played defense and earned his bachelor's degree in education. Prior to that, Blair previously was head coach and general manager in the British Columbia Hockey League, where he was Coastal Conference Coach of the Year in 2000.

At UAA, Blair has been in charge of the team's defensemen and been instrumental in recruiting.

Sorenson, 54, has been in charge of Dimond hockey since 1991 and has guided the Lynx to the last two Class 4A state championships, and won three state titles in his tenure. He is also a longtime youth coach, and between high school and competition hockey has helped develop scores of players who went on to play college hockey, and many who have gone on to play professionally. Tampa Bay Lightning center Nate Thompson, and right wing Joey Crabb, who was with the Washington Capitals earlier this season, both played for Sorenson.

Sorenson is UAA's No. 2 all-time leading scorer. He was a Division II All-American in 1984 and inducted into the Seawolf Hall of Fame 2001. He has also been heavily involved in USA Hockey, the governing body of American amateur hockey, served on the boards of Alaska youth hockey organizations, scouted and run hockey camps. His son, Tanner, plays at Michigan State.

Both Blair and Sorenson confirmed they applied for the UAA job, but declined comment until the application process is complete.

Corbett, 41, is a former University of Denver defenseman and captain who has been on Air Force's staff for the last 10 seasons under head coach Frank Serratore. The Falcons advanced to the NCAA tournament five times in a six-season span from 2007-2012. Corbett counts Serratore and former Denver coach and two-time national champion coach George Gwozdecky among his mentors.

Prior to his job at Air Force, Corbett was a Coach of the Year winner in the American West Hockey League and also was director of the Colorado Springs Amatuer Hockey Association. He has coached summer hockey camps in Alaska.

UAA is coming off a season in which it went 4-27-5 overall, finished last in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and endured its 20th straight losing season, the longest current string of consecutive losing seasons in Division I.

Corbett said his coaching and recruiting experience -- Air Force, like UAA, faces many obstacles in the latter -- and his passion for the game have prepared him to become a Division I head coach.

"You're always looking to get better,'' Corbett said in a telephone interview. "I always say, 'You know what? Today was a good day and tomorrow is going to be better.' "

He said he remembers playing at Sullivan Arena in the 1990s, when the building was packed, and envisions a return to those times for the Seawolves.

"Sullivan Arena was a tough place to play, with that horn going and the crowd so loud -- it's a great hockey community,'' Corbett said. "I think you can do well there, and you can win there.''

UAA athletic director Steve Cobb said the school will not release the names of all applicants out of respect for their privacy -- some applicants who do not receive serious consideration likely do not want their current employer to know they are job hunting -- but will reveal the finalists.

Cobb, who has the final say in hiring a new coach, said UAA's search committee could have its list of finalists -- there is no set number -- as soon as Friday, April 19.

"I never ask them to give me a hard number,'' Cobb said. "If it's three, it's three. If it's five, it's five.''

The four-man search committee is comprised of four UAA employees -- men's basketball coach Rusty Osborne, running coach Michael Friess, volleyball coach Chris Green and Dr. Stephen Strom, the athletic department's faculty representative.

According to UAA's job posting, a bachelor's degree is required for the job, as is five years of "progressive experience as an NCAA ice hockey coach; a majority of which must be at the Division I level.''

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

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