Mike Nesper

Olivier Roy is back in the ECHL Western Conference finals for a second straight season. His goal is the same as the last time -- reach the Kelly Cup finals. This time, he's helping the Alaska Aces instead of dispatching them in six games as Roy and the Stockton Thunder did in last season's semifinals. On Friday, the goaltender stopped 25 of 26 shots as the Aces grabbed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series with a 2-1 win over Bakersfield at Sullivan Arena. Perhaps Roy's biggest save was a pad stop on Greg Miller's wrist shot from the slot in the waning seconds with Bakersfield on a 6-on-4 advantage, having pulled netminder Laurent Brossoit following a hooking penalty on Alaska's Brendan Connollly. "That was huge," Aces head coach Rob Murray said. Settling the puck was difficult for both...Mike Nesper
The UAA women's running program claimed an impressive sixth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference title Saturday in Oregon. The Seawolves' successful defense of their outdoor track and field GNAC team title marked the second straight year UAA's women have swept the conference championships in three sports -- outdoor and indoor track and field and cross country. The Seawolves, whose men finished second after losing their top runner Micah Chelimo to an Achilles tendon injury Friday, won a combined 12 titles and had 17 top-three performances Saturday. Head coach Michael Friess credited UAA's success to its ability to score points in multiple events. "That's what creates a championship," he said via cellphone. UAA's women scored 137 points to edge Northwest Nazarene and Western...Mike Nesper
Four-time national champion Micah Chelimo suffered a season-ending injury during the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference track and field championships in Oregon. The UAA senior from Kenya will need surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon he injured after clearing the race's water hazard, head coach Michael Friess said by cellphone. This marks Chelimo's final meet for UAA as it's too late for him to redshirt. Friess said Chelimo cleared the barrier and landed cleanly, then he fell and had to be carried off the track. "It was just kind of a freaky thing," Friess said. "He just kind of landed and that was it. "With those types of injuries there's no warning," Friess said. While Chelimo hasn't had an issue with his Achilles or the steeplechase in...Mike Nesper
Thursday's 1-1 tie between Service and South evoked contrasting reactions from the Cook Inlet Conference boys soccer teams. Service saw its second draw this season against a Wolverines team that has been dominant the past decade as confirmation of its ability, while South was disappointed about letting a few wins slip away this season. South owned the first half, scoring just six minutes into the match when a Wesley Chien floater got past Service keeper Jacob Andrews. The early goal rattled Service, said Johnny Yoon, who tied the match on a penalty kick about 14 minutes into the second half. "That goal shook us up," he said. Possession and shots on goal favored South through the first 40 minutes. Andrews made six first-half saves, including getting both hands on Lucas Seymour's free kick...Mike Nesper
The East High softball team has been nearly unbeatable the past two seasons, going 52-1 and winning consecutive Cook Inlet Conference and large-school state titles. The T-birds' dominance continues this season -- they've won all nine games so far. Sydney Smith is largely responsible for East's prowess. The senior pitcher had amassed 77 wins and 421 strikeouts in 87 career games as of Friday, and she still has half a season before her high school career ends. So far this spring, the righthander is 8-0 with 51 strikeouts. Smith exudes confidence and calmness in the circle, but it's her accuracy that makes her so tough to hit, East coach Paul Schoenborn said. "Her location is really good," he said. So is her attitude. On the rare occasion when Smith has a subpar performance, she keeps...Mike Nesper
Joe Delia, whose Skwentna home has served as an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race checkpoint since the race began in 1973, died Thursday. He was 84. Delia, who lived in Skwentna for more than 50 years, held several positions on the trail, including race judge, checker and trail breaker. In 1997, he was inducted into the Iditarod Hall of Fame. He retired as a checker that same year, though he continued to serve in an unofficial capacity and host the checkpoint at his house. His old Skwentna home still serves as the checkpoint. The Delias moved to Anchorage two years ago after Joe was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, his wife, Norma, said Friday. After they moved, Norma asked Joe about the future of their former residence. "We're doing nothing with it. That's the Iditarod's," Joe told her. That's how...Mike Nesper
Amid the 3,000-plus cowbell-wielding Alaska Aces fans sat a row of people quietly rooting for the Idaho Steelheads in section 210 of Sullivan Arena on Thursday. Well, one Steelhead in particular: William Rapuzzi. Several members of Rapuzzi's family attended Game 1 of the ECHL Western Conference semifinals to watch the Anchorage man skate in his hometown. Rapuzzi, 24, who skated for Dimond his freshman and sophomore years, recorded a team-leading six shots on goal -- including four prime scoring chances -- for Idaho, which earned a 1-0 overtime victory despite being outshot by the Aces 47-27. Playing at the Sullivan isn't new for Rapuzzi -- he's made trips to Alaska not only with Idaho but during his four years at Colorado College. He just always skates for the squad getting booed by the...Mike Nesper
Athletics was a major part of Nathan Carey's childhood. That all changed when the 2006 Dimond High grad broke his back six years ago. After all, contact sports and wheelchairs don't mix -- or so Carey thought. Then he found sled hockey. Carey, who just finished his first full season with the Alaska Avalanche sled hockey team, said the sport gives people like him the opportunity to engage in physical competition despite their injuries. "This is the first thing I found since breaking my back that is full contact," Carey said following a game Tuesday at the Subway Sports Centre. The Alaska Avalanche played four games against a visiting Buffalo squad, marking their first home games against a real opponent since the team started a decade ago. A typical "season" for the Avalanche includes...Mike Nesper
The military said Monday it will close Eagleglen Golf Course this season, leaving Anchorage with three 18-hole golf courses. In a press release announcing the closure of one of Alaska's premier courses, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson said it couldn't justify keeping all three of its courses open. JBER said it had considered a variety of options, such as raising greens fees as well as closing one or both of the 18-hole courses at Moose Run, before determining that closing Eagleglen was the best option. Golf closures have happened recently at other military bases, JBER said, including 19 last year. JBER would not answer specific questions Monday, including future plans for Eagleglen or if it could reopen. JBER spokeswoman Erin Eaton said the media would be given the opportunity to ask...Mike Nesper
Fields are anything but green at the start of the high school softball and baseball seasons. Brown, soggy playing surfaces emerge from a six-month blanket of snow for season-opening games in late April. Teams will have some reprieve from puddle-strewn fields this season thanks to a new turf field at Bartlett, and plenty of new faces will enjoy the turf as seven of the eight Cook Inlet Conference baseball teams have new head coaches. The ball field and adjacent football field at Bartlett are both FieldTurf surfaces. The fields, which will be used for football, soccer, softball and baseball, cost $4.3 million. The Alliance in Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska acquired the funding from the state legislature, said Alliance president Steve Nerland. The complex isn’t finished —...Mike Nesper