The UAA hockey team won’t do a disappearing act in the 2019-20 season like it did last season.
The Seawolves, who endured nearly two months without a home game last season, won’t face a prolonged absence from Sullivan Arena in the upcoming season.
The team is off for three straight weekends during the holidays, a break that starts after a Dec. 6-7 road series against Michigan Tech and ends with a Jan. 4-5 home series against Lake Superior State. Other than that, the Seawolves will play back-to-back road series only once.
“It’s a little more friendly,” UAA coach Matt Curley said of the schedule, announced Wednesday by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I like how the schedule balanced out. Last year was a little difficult, especially early in the year when we had those long stretches away from home. (The season) was a work in progress as it was, and that certainly made it a lot more challenging.”
Last season, Curley’s first as head coach, UAA went from Nov. 10 to Jan. 4 without a home game. The Seawolves finished the season with a 3-28-3 record, the second-worst record in program history.
The 2019-20 season will mark UAA’s 40th as a full-time collegiate program — the Seawolves played their first season in 1979-80, but only eight of their 31 games were against other colleges.
The Seawolves will open with a nonconference road series at the University of Maine, where they will likely face Anchorage goaltender Jeremy Swayman. Swayman is a Boston Bruins prospect who is one of Hockey East’s top goalies.
After that, UAA is home for two weekends. The Seawolves open their home season Oct. 25-26 with two games against the Nanooks of UAF, and are back in action Thursday and Friday with a nonconference series against Nebraska-Omaha.
The Seawolves will play their annual Green-Gold scrimmage game before heading to Maine, but they won’t play any other exhibition games, Curley said.
UAA wraps up the regular season with a Feb. 28-29 series against the Nanooks in Fairbanks. All four UAA-UAF games are part of the annual Governor’s Cup series between Alaska’s two Division I hockey teams.
UAA has 16 home games and 18 road games; UAF has 18 home games and 16 road games.
The Nanooks will open their season with a nonconference home series against Denver, a Frozen Four team this season. The series will be a homecoming of sorts for the Denver coaching staff — head coach David Carle is from Anchorage, and assistant coaches Tavis MacMillan and Dallas Ferguson are both former players and coaches for the Nanooks.
The Nanooks will play their 2019-20 home games at the Carlson Center, which has been their home since 1990 but won’t be for much longer. UAF chancellor Dan White said last week the team will move to an on-campus facility within two years.
The Carlson Center’s Freon-based cooling system is aging, and Freon has been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency and is no longer manufactured in the United States. The Carlson Center’s use of Freon has been grandfathered through 2020, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
As a result, two committees this summer will begin efforts to establish an on-campus hockey arena, White said. Renovating the Patty Center is one of the school’s options; the other is building a new arena.
“UAF will undertake the planning needed to bring hockey back on campus permanently within two years," White said in a press release from the school.
If the Carson Center cooling system creates problems this season, UAF will use the Patty Center as a backup, the school said. For the Patty Center to become UAF’s official home arena, renovations will be needed to meet WCHA requirements. The Patty Center seats a little more than 1,000 for hockey, according to the News-Miner, and the WCHA requires a minimum seating capacity of 2,500.
UAA hockey schedule
Oct. 11-12 — UAA at Maine (nonconference)
Oct. 25-26 — UAF at UAA
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 — Nebraska-Omaha at UAA (nonconference)
Nov. 8-9 — UAA at Alabama-Huntsville
Nov. 15-16 — Bowling Green at UAA
Nov. 22-23 — UAA at Minnesota State
Nov. 29-30 — Ferris State at UAA
Dec. 6-7 — UAA at Michigan Tech
Jan. 4-5 — Lake Superior State at UAA
Jan. 10-11 — UAA at Northern Michigan
Jan. 17-18 — Alabama-Huntsville at UAA
Jan. 24-25 – UAA at Lake Superior State
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 — Minnesota State at UAA
Feb. 7-8 — UAA at Bowling Green
Feb. 14-15 — UAA at Arizona State (nonconference)
Feb. 21-22 — Bemidji State at UAA
Feb. 28-29 — UAA at UAF
UAF hockey schedule
Oct. 5-6 — Denver at UAF (nonconference)
Oct. 11-12 — UAF at Michigan Tech
Oct. 18-19 — UAF at Penn State (nonconference)
Oct. 25-26 — UAF at UAA
Nov. 1-2 — Bemidji State at UAF
Nov. 8-9 — Arizona State at UAF (nonconference)
Nov. 15-16 — UAF at Northern Michigan
Nov. 22-23 — Ferris State at UAF
Nov. 29-30 — Michigan Tech at UAF
Dec. 6-7 — UAF at Bemidji State
Jan. 3-4 — UAF at Minnesota State
Jan. 10-11 — Lake Superior State at UAF
Jan. 17-18 — UAF at Ferris State
Jan. 24-25 — Northern Michigan at UAF
Feb. 7-8 — UAF at Alabama Huntsville
Feb. 14-15 — Bowling Green at UAF
Feb. 28-29 — UAA at UAF