A $25,000 donation from a former player has pushed fundraising efforts to save the UAA hockey team to nearly one-third of the sum needed to keep the team beyond the 2020-21 season.
The group said Friday afternoon that it has raised more than $850,000 in cash and pledges. It needs to raise $3 million by February in order to gain reinstatement by the University of Alaska Board of Regents, which earlier this year voted to end the program after the current school year.
Among the donations is $25,000 from Brian Kraft, who played for the Seawolves during their heyday from 1989-92. He’s the owner of multiple fishing lodges in the Bristol Bay area.
Called Save Seawolf Hockey, the fundraising group responded to Friday’s news that UAA has canceled all winter indoor sports for the 2020-21 season by saying it has “recommitted its support to reviving — and reinventing — the hockey program in 2021-22.”
“This is NOT the end of UAA Hockey!” it said in a Facebook post.
Among the donations is $250,000 from the Eugene Giza Fund. The fund pledged to match donations up to $250,000, and the match has been met for a total of $500,000, according to Save Seawolf Hockey.
Additionally, outdoor yard signs supporting all three UAA sports on the chopping block — hockey, gymnastics and alpine skiing — are available from the Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club for a donation. The Benton Bay Lions Club is also running a 50-50 split-the-pot raffle for both hockey and gymnastics, and the hockey pot had more than $8,000 as of Friday afternoon.
On Dec. 12, a UAA-UAF alumni game will be played in Anchorage, involving former players from both of Alaska’s college hockey programs. Because of COVID-19 health mandates regarding crowd sizes, the game will be live-streamed on the Save Seawolf Hockey Facebook page.