By The Blog's count, there are at least eight Alaska connections in the NCAA Division III men's and women's tournaments, which open this week -- actually, three first-round men's game drop tonight.
The five Alaska connections on the men's side all open play tonight. Wisconsin Eau-Claire (20-5-2) entertains St. John's (Minn.). On Eau-Claire are junior forward Jon Waggoner of Fairbanks (6-6--12 in 17 games), as well as two former Seawolves, forward Mark Pustin (9-17--26 in 27 games) and defenseman Drew Darwitz (2-7--9 in 24 games). The winner of that game advances to a Sunday quarterfinal against St. Norbert (23-5-1), which features Erik Cooper of Anchorage (6-10--16 in 23 games). St. Norbert is the two-time defending national champion and in the previous five seasons owns three national titles and one runner-up finish.
(UPDATE: Wisconsin-Eau Claire won 4-2, with Waggoner assisting on the game-tying goal and Darwitz assisting on the game-winning goal).
Also playing tonight is Massachusetts-Dartmouth (12-7-7), which has defenseman Zak Kroll of Anchorage on the roster (0-1--1 in five games). (UPDATE: Mass-Dartmouth was eliminated 5-2 by Bowdoin).
On the women's side, Norwich, runner-up last year and the national champ in 2011, features junior defenseman Kayla Parsons of Fairbanks (11-15--26 in 26 games) and junior forward Elle Kadel of Fairbanks (0-1--1 in seven games).
St. Norbert includes junior forward Zoe Kurth of Fairbanks (11-9--20 in 26 games).