When Alec Butcher's name rang across the loudspeakers at Friday night's UAA hockey game against Minnesota State, it was a dose of nostalgia for any longtime Seawolves fan who has been following the team since its inception.
Butcher, a senior transfer from Sacred Heart, took the ice in a Seawolves jersey nearly four decades after his father, Allen Butcher, played on the original UAA teams from 1979-82.
"If you go to the Wells Fargo Center and look at the first three pictures on the wall, he'll be up there," Butcher said of his dad. "All three of them his name is spelled wrong."
Butcher's debut Friday was his first hockey game since Nov. 4, 2016. He transferred to UAA for the spring 2017 semester, but had to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules.
"It felt really good to get back into a game," Butcher said. "The speed is definitely something I gotta catch up to because I've been gone for a year but I think it's just something that will come with more playing time."
Butcher's homecoming didn't quite go as planned. The Seawolves led No. 7 Minnesota State by one goal in the third period before surrendering four straight goals in a 5-2 loss.
But Butcher, a 5-foot-10 forward, had some good moments.
Butcher was in on UAA's power-play unit, which produced the first goal of the game by Tad Kozun. In the second period, Butcher fired two quick shots from close range but couldn't get past Minnesota State goalie Jason Pawloski.
"I thought Alec Butcher could have had three or four goals tonight," UAA coach Matt Thomas said. "He's a veteran guy, he's obviously been around college hockey. He has the ability to really shoot a puck."
Butcher said it's nice to be back in front familiar fans, friends and family. Friday's game marked his first time in a jersey for an Anchorage team since he won a state title with West High as a sophomore in 2010.
"I remember we had a really good goalie, Blake Mendenhall," Butcher said. "I think that's something similar at UAA is we have a really good goalie (in Olivier Mantha).
"If we get on a run here at the end of the season, we can definitely make a (playoff) push."
Butcher has been a hockey nomad over his career. In high school, he played for Dimond and West before leaving to join the Pikes Peak Miners, an AAA team in Colorado Springs.
He returned to Alaska in 2013 to play junior hockey with the Kenai River Brown Bears. Butcher earned North American Hockey League MVP honors with the Brown Bears in 2014, posting 24-42—66 totals in 60 games.
He chose to start his college career at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he was fourth in scoring as a sophomore in 2015-16 with 3-22—25 totals in 37 games.
But Butcher only played in four games his junior season before deciding to leave the team and transfer to UAA.
"Things just didn't work out (at Sacred Heart)," Butcher said. "It's nice to be closer to family, friends, home crowd.
"I'm gonna do everything I can to help (Thomas) and my teammates win."
Thomas said Butcher should give the Seawolves an offensive boost. UAA is tied for last in the NCAA in goals with 33 in 19 games.
"He'll be a guy who's just going to give us another presence, another guy we can lean on offensively," Thomas said. "That's our struggle right now is scoring."