Peaking at the right time, Anchorage Wolverines are poised to make some noise in the season’s final stretch

During the franchise’s inaugural season in 2021-22, the Anchorage Wolverines went on an improbable and what felt like a magical run to the Robertson Cup finals.

After winning 14 of their last 15 games, the Wolverines won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time around as they appear to be hitting their stride when it matters most. The Wolverines, who sit second in the Midwest Division of the North American Hockey League, have already secured a playoff berth.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” Wolverines first-year head coach Nick Walters said. “This was always the time where we wanted to peak and guys are clicking. We’ve put together a good string here and we’re hoping this bleeds into the playoff push.”

The players have been starting to gel especially well during the last quarter of the regular season where they’ve been putting “more of an emphasis on structure whereas early on it was more about habits, details, and skill development,” according to Walters.

“Now we’re really honing in on how we’re going to play on certain areas of the ice,” he said.

The team has changed its practice routines to ensure they’re dialed in and refining how they handle faceoffs, forechecking and breakouts in transition.

Another major boost for them has been the full integration of the players they added during the season just before the roster freeze.


“They’ve come in and been contributors to our lineup,” Walters said. “It’s made us a more complete team.”

One of their key in-season additions was Anchorage’s Camden Shasby, who was acquired via trade in November from the Fargo Force of the USHL.

“I feel we’re just all super locked in and are playing our best hockey right now,” Shasby said. “We’re confident and just trust each other and have been making plays.”

Shasby, the son of University of Alaska Anchorage head coach Matt Shasby, went from the new kid on the block in his own home town to being a catalyst to the team’s success during their impressive run as of late.

“I feel like I’m more part of the team now,” he said. “I fit in a lot more, and everyone is just getting along super well together. I’m part of that now and it’s really cool.”

[Camden Shasby will add to family’s hockey legacy as newest member of Anchorage Wolverines]

Another local product who has been red-hot during the run to close out the regular season is Anchorage’s Bryce Monrean, who also was childhood friends with Shasby.

“We’ve been making plays with each other, finding each other on the ice, and just have a lot of chemistry which is awesome since we’ve been playing with each other since we were really young,” Shasby said.

Lessons learned from having historic win streak snapped

The Wolverines strung together a record 12-game winning streak but saw it come to an end in the second contest of a two-game series they played against the Minnesota Wilderness in mid-March. Given that the team only narrowly lost in a 5-4 shootout, Walters wouldn’t even classify it as a hiccup.

“The streak we put together was awesome,” he said. “None of us were saying ‘Hey let’s go out for this win streak.’ It’s just been one game at a time kind of thing and we’ve had success.”

In the loss to the Wilderness, Anchorage was up 2-0 after the first period but gave up four goals in the second period. The Wolverines scored two more in the third to force overtime, where neither team scored and Anchorage ultimately fell in the shootout.

“Even though we lost that game, I was super happy with our push back,” Walters said. “When you give up four goals, it’s kind of tough. But to see our guys bounce back and battle through that and we still got a point out of it, I still consider that a positive.”

Shasby said the most important lesson they learned from the loss was to not let up and keep their foot “on the pedal the whole game” if they want to beat the really good teams.

“We came out really well in the first period and we kind of just didn’t keep our foot on the pedal in the second period and fell off,” he said. “We can’t take a period off or else we could lose a game.”

Home ice advantage has been a major factor

The Wolverines have had the luxury of either playing on their home ice or traveling in-state for all 13 of their games since Feb. 17. That has been vital to the rest, recovery, and overall morale of the team during this stretch of recent success.

“I was kind of wary of it when the schedule came out,” Walters said. “I didn’t know how it was going to play out but it’s certainly playing into our favor. Everybody likes sleeping in their own bed, being at home, driving to the rink, you’re not on a bus or eating hotel food or eating out every day, you’re eating home-cooked meals.”

The players agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment and are grateful for the time they’ve been able to spend with each other, at their homes or with their host families.


“It’s been awesome just to be at home and close to my family,” Shasby said. “I think everyone is just in a better mood overall. It’s a nice reset from being on the road.”

Domination of the Last Frontier franchises

The Wolverines have played especially well against Alaska’s two other NAHL teams in the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears. Their 36 total wins heading into this weekend are more than the win totals of their in-state rivals combined at 35 and they secured the annual AK 49 Club Cup with more than a month left to spare in the season.

“We’re in a unique situation where we have the Club 49 Cup and that goes to the best Alaska team with the points system at the end of the year but we officially clinched that a couple weeks ago,” Walters said.

The three Alaska teams face each other 12 times each throughout the regular season and to have those bragging rights as the best of the bunch means a lot to the players and fan base.

“It means a lot being from Anchorage and to be the best team in Alaska is really cool,” Shasby said.

Heading into the final three weeks of the regular season, the Wolverines are focused on finishing strong, minimizing mistakes and hopefully improving their playoff positioning.

“We want to make sure we are a full-proof team heading into the playoffs so when that Game 1 starts, we’re firing on all cylinders,” Walters said.

The Wolverines (36-13-2-3) are just one win and three points (80-77) behind the Wisconsin Windigo (37-14-3-3) for the Midwest Division lead.

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.