The Anchorage Wolverines announced they have promoted assistant coach Evan Trupp to head coach to replace outgoing chief Mike Aikens.
The team announced Thursday morning that Aikens, who coached the Wolverines in their inaugural season, accepted a position with the St. Lawrence Saints, an NCAA Division I program in New York state.
Trupp, of Anchorage, competed collegiately at the University of North Dakota and played professionally in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe.
He was part of the coaching staff under Aikens in the team’s first season in the North American Hockey League in 2021-22. The Wolverines came within an eyelash of taking the Robertson Cup, falling 3-0 to the New Jersey Titans in the championship game.
“Evan is a tremendous hockey player and coach, and has a great rapport with the players,” said Director of Hockey Operations Keith Morris in a statement released by the team. “We have no doubt that he will step into the head coaching role with ease. With 15 returning players, and an incredible amount of depth with players new to the Wolverines, we are excited to show Anchorage even more excitement on the ice this season.”
Trupp played two seasons with the Alaska Aces from 2012 to 2014, and his professional career ended in 2019-20 during a stint with an Austrian team. Trupp, who was traveling Thursday, said in a statement to ADN he looks forward to building onto the foundation started in the team’s inaugural season.
“I’m extremely happy for Mike and his family for the opportunity that he has very much earned,” Trupp said. “I learned a great deal from him last year and was very fortunate to have worked with him. He paved the way on how we want to do things around here in year one. And in year two, I am excited for the opportunity to take over as head coach and continue to steer this boat in the same direction.”
Aikens, of Rochester, Minnesota, said coaching at the Division I level was too great an opportunity to pass up.
“This opportunity at St. Lawrence University is a game changer for our family, and fulfills my dream of coaching Division I hockey,” Aikens said in a release. “As sad as it is to move on from our Anchorage family, this is a perfect example of the ladder of development which has been encouraged by the Wolverines and the NAHL. This is what junior hockey is all about.”
Chugiak High alumni and former UAA player Nick Walters will step into the position vacated by Trupp, giving the Wolverines an all-Alaska coaching staff. Anchorage native Merit Waldrop will also return to the staff as an assistant.