Sports

Alaska sports week in review: UAA women’s basketball remains undefeated, Chugiak hockey takes top spot in CIC

This past week saw several teams extend winning streaks and snap losing skids at the prep, collegiate and amateur levels across the Alaska sports landscape. It also saw some athletes with Last Frontier roots shine abroad. On the high school hockey front, Chugiak moved into the top spot in the Cook Inlet Conference with a pair of convincing victories. On the college scene, the University of Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team emerged from a two-game series with its unblemished record intact while the men’s team halted its losing streak by handing a previously unbeaten team its first loss.

Headlines and highlights

After shutting out previously top ranked South Anchorage 5-0 last Tuesday and blowing out rival Eagle River 12-0 the following night, the Chugiak boys hockey team moved into the top spot in the Cook Inlet Conference standings. With the back-to-back victories, the Mustangs extended their winning streak to seven in a row, improved to 8-0-1 overall and remain the only undefeated team in the conference.

The Anchorage Scholastic Bowling League got in one more round of matches last Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break with face-offs between Cook Inlet Conference foes. Through the first three matches of the 2022 season, Bettye Davis East, West Anchorage, and Eagle River got out to 3-0 starts for boys while Dimond and Service did the same in the girls division.

Even though their season ended two weeks ago, the stars of the 2022 UAA volleyball team continued to receive recognition for their incredible senior seasons that helped propel the Seawolves to one of their best seasons in program history. Outside hitter and Palmer native Eve Stephens was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Div. II West Region Player of the Year while setter Ellen Floyd made the All-West Region First Team.

The UAA men’s basketball team had lost four straight games after winning its season-opening series with Midway late last month. While all four losses came by narrow margins with none being by more than five points, UAA just kept coming up short. The Seawolves got back in the win column this past weekend up in Fairbanks at the Mt. McKinley North Star Bank Invitational. They beat winless Westminster and previously unbeaten Texas A&M International on consecutive days.

The Seawolves had four players record double-digit points between the two games with junior forward Sawyer Storms doing so in both outings. He led the team in scoring against the Griffins on Friday with 23 points while senior guard Da’Zhon Wyche led them in scoring against the Dustdevils Saturday with 20 points and nearly had a triple-double by also leading the team in rebounds (nine) and assists (eight).

The UAA women’s basketball team continued its strong start to the season by sweeping Biola in a two-game home series to extend its winning streak to seven straight games to remain undefeated. The Seawolves beat the Eagles 77-68 Friday and 86-79 on Saturday. They had four players record double-digit points over the course of the two games with senior guards Vishe’ Rabb and Jahnna Hajdukovich doing so in both contests. Rabb was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week after scoring over 20 points in both games and recording a double-double in the second by leading the team in points with 24 and rebounds with 12.

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Despite strong performances in two days of nordic ski action both the UAA men’s and women’s teams finished second to in-state rival UAF at the Alaska Nordic Cup. The Nanooks edged the Seawolves 30:17 to 30:32 in men’s relays and 35:28 to 35:59 in the women’s to decide who would be crowned champion.

The Anchorage Wolverines ended a five-game losing skid and avoided getting swept in a two-game road series against in-state rival Fairbanks this past weekend. After dropping the first game 3-2 on Friday night, they bounced back and won their first game since they hosted the Ice Dogs on Nov. 4 and won 5-4. Forward Jackson Reineke scored goals in both games to lead the Wolverines.

Alaska stars in the greater galaxy

Alaska Pacific University Elite Nordic Ski Team member and two-time winter Olympian Rosie Brennan was one of two Americans to finish in the top 10 at the inaugural Ruka 20k Skate Pursuit in Finland this past weekend. She finished in sixth place, four spots ahead of teammate Jessie Diggins who finished in 10th and enjoyed the new format of the race.

“The pursuit format is always a fun and wild way to kick off the year,” Brennan said in a statement. “With the longer distance, things packed up a lot more so it became a very tactical race for me. I was happy with how I managed in the big pack and happy to be in the sprint for 3rd. I feel I am missing my top gear, limiting me in the finish, but my fitness feels good so I think the speed will come as the season progresses. It was a great day for everyone on the team and that is a fantastic way to close out the weekend on a high note.”

When Montana State tight end Derryk Snell threw an 18-yard jump pass touchdown on Nov. 19 in a 55-21 win over rival Montana, it did more than just cap off the Bobcats’ eighth scoring drive of the game. The Eagle River native became the first Alaskan in 20 years to record a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in a single NCAA season. Snell had already caught and ran for a pair of scores in his junior season but with his last of the regular season, the 2017 Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year and Chugiak alumni accomplished the rare trifecta.

Anchorage native Mac Swanson is currently playing in his first year of junior hockey for the Fargo (N.D.) Force of the USHL but the 16-year-old has already decided where he will be playing at the collegiate level. He won’t have to travel far after recently announcing his verbal commitment to Division I hockey power University of North Dakota. The standout forward is tied for 10th in scoring one of the country’s top junior hockey league’s and is the highest-scoring player in the circuit among those born in 2006.

Palmer native Lila Pettit will be traveling from the Last Frontier to the Sunshine State this week to participate in a National Soccer Cup and Showcase. She was nominated as one of the best 12-year-old soccer players in the country and will be competing on the Rush Select West team. The four-day event will take place in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Pettit plays for Polar Vortex Soccer Club in Palmer as well as the Alaska Development Program (ADP) 2010 team.

Last week’s results

Prep Wrestling

Tuesday

Boys

Soldotna 112, Nikiski 12

Colony High 48, Palmer 28

Redington 42, Eagle River 28

Palmer 24, Colony 18

Lathrop 48, North Pole 24

Redington 66, Grace Christian 10

Soldotna 101, Homer 6

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Colony 52, Wasilla 27

Eagle River 57, Grace Christian 15

Wasilla 34, Palmer 32

Lathrop Wrestling 37, North Pole 34

Girls

Wasilla 24, Colony 9

Wasilla 24, Palmer 21

Prep Hockey

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Boys

Tuesday

Chugiak 5, South 0

West 1, Dimond 1

Wednesday

Chugiak 12, Eagle River 0

Prep Bowling

Tuesday

Boys

West 31, Bartlett 4

West - Donovan Gee 213

Bartlett - Nathaniel Copeland 162

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East 33, Chugiak 2

East - Colton Penetac 279

Chugiak - Barrick Stewart 62

Eagle River 31, Service 4

Eagle River - Kendric Siders 259

Service - Joshua Negrida 197

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Dimond 25, South 10

Dimond - Jared Krison 210

South - Jet Kmet 243

Girls

West 23, Bartlett 12

West - Callie Justice 192

Bartlett - Tida Ziong 124

Chugiak 31, East 4

Chugiak - Lindsey Vig 168

East - Aspen Davis 104

Service 23, Eagle River 12

Service - Amelia Shen 202

Eagle RIver - Grace Hardy 177

Dimond 29, South 6

Dimond - Maia Struble 170

South - Zoe Fencil 123

College

Women’s Basketball

Friday

UAA 77, Biola 68

Saturday

UAA 86, Biola 79

Men’s Basketball

Friday

UAA 81, Westminster 77

Saturday

UAA 65, Texas A&M International 48

College skiing

Nordic Cup

UAF total time 188:39.08, UAA total time 192:20.07

NAHL

Friday

Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3, Anchorage Wolverines 2

Saturday

Anchorage Wolverines 5 vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4

Three things to watch for this week

Prep

Wrestling

The last round of dual meets ahead of regions will take place in town this week with all eight Cook Inlet Conference teams slated to hit the mat and face off with each other and a few out of town teams will be featured as well. On Tuesday at 6 p.m., Eagle River will be hosting rival Chugiak while Service hosts both South and Redington. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Bartlett will be hosting Dimond while West will host crosstown rival Bettye Davis East.

College

Basketball

Montana State Billings at UAA, Thursday 5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Alaska Airlines Center

Seattle Pacific at UAA, Saturday 5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Alaska Airlines Center

Both of the Seawolves basketball programs will be getting their first taste of Great Northwest Athletic Conference action this week when the Yellow Jackets and Falcons come to town. The women’s team will be aiming to remain unbeaten while the men’s team will be looking to build off the momentum after notching back-to-back victories this past weekend.

Hockey

Simon Fraser at UAA, Friday 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, 6:07 p.m. at UAA Sports Complex

The Seawolves will be back in front of their home fans and on their home ice for the first time since Oct. 15 this weekend for a two-game series with the Red Leafs. They have only managed to win just three of their eight straight road games but were able to notch back-to-back wins in Sin City prior to the Thanksgiving break.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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