7 Alaska teams begin play Wednesday in USA Hockey national championships

Doyle Woody

With the Alaska Aces on an unusual late-season break in their schedule and UAA's season done, there's still no shortage of Anchorage-related, high-stakes hockey this week.

It's just that it's all taking place Outside.

Seven Alaska teams, including six based in Anchorage, open play Wednesday in various USA Hockey national championship tournaments around the country, most of them four times zones away on the East Coast.

There are also several Alaskans playing at nationals for teams in the Lower 48 -- Shattuck-St. Mary's from Faribault, Minn., usually includes some Alaskans, and has at least four competing at nationals this season.

The Alaska teams are all playing at the Tier II level, which is one step below Tier I, the most elite level.

The Southcentral Wolves have three boys teams, all of which won state championships, at nationals. The 18-U team plays nationals in Wayne, N.J., the 16-U team plays in Reston, Va., and the 14-U team plays in Hackensack, N.J.

The Alaska All Stars have two boys entries -- the 18-U team will compete in Wayne and the 16-U team plays in Reston.

Of the three girls teams playing at nationals, two compete for Team Alaska -- the 19-U team and 14-U team will play in Amherst, N.Y., where the 16-U team from the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association is also competing.

Since 1990, six Alaska teams have seized national championships, three in Tier I and three in Tier II.

The national tournaments feature pool play Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, then two elimination rounds on Saturday and championship games on Sunday.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog