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Friday Flashback: 30 years ago, UAA hockey turned Sullivan Arena into a madhouse

by | Sep 15, 2023 | Cover Story, Friday Flashback, Hockey

Sullivan Arena back in the day. Photo by UAA Athletics Department

Dig, if you will, the picture: Sullivan Arena, packed to the rafters, all 6,206 seats sold, another 200 standing-room tickets sold, for each of the UAA hockey team’s 17 home games, actual ticket scalpers outside that concrete building before games and cheers so loud during games that it was hard to hear the person next to you speak.

This is not a fever dream.

That was Seawolves hockey 30 years ago, when the program joined the vaunted Western Collegiate Hockey Association full-time as the circuit’s 10th member.

Those were glory days.

The 1993-94 season was the culmination of Brush Christiansen’s dream. The Seawolves’ first head coach had guided the program from Division II to Division I independent status, through the short-lived Great West Hockey Conference and, finally, into the spotlight of an established powerhouse league. The WCHA included perennially elite programs like Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, and storied programs like Colorado College, Denver and Michigan Tech. All those programs, as well as Northern Michigan, owned NCAA titles.

In Anchorage, Sullivan Arena was the place to be, and to be seen, on home weekends for UAA.

And the Seawolves did relatively well that first season on the toughest circuit in the country, going 15-19-2 overall and 14-16-2 in the WCHA to finish in sixth place. That tied for the highest UAA finished in its WCHA history, which ended in 2020.

Christiansen guided a 93-94 crew that included eight Alaskans – defensemen Jason White and Todd Bethard, and forwards Paul Williams, Cotton Gore, Jack Kowal, David Vallieres, Todd Skoglund and Brandon Carlson. They were buoyed by captain and leading scorer Keith Morris (16-18—34 totals in 36 games), who today is general manager of the Anchorage Wolverines.

Keith Morris in celebration mode. Photo by UAA Athletics Department

They were backstopped by goaltender Lee Schill, who doubled as a highlight reel and would be voted second-team All-WCHA that season. Bethard made the WCHA’s All-Rookie Team. Six guys reached double digits in goals.

The Seawolves lost their first three WCHA games, getting swept at Colorado College and falling to Minnesota-Duluth in their WCHA home opener before coming back to top the Bulldogs in the series finale. Propelled by raucous home crowds, the Seawolves went 8-7-1 in WCHA home games and swept North Dakota.

In the previous season, 1992-93, UAA was an affiliate member of the WCHA and averaged 6,183 fans per home game. That average climbed to 6,406 in 93-94 and hit 6,378 in 94-95.

Those are the three highest average attendance marks in Seawolves history.

Glory days.

Story made possible by:

Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson

Family of Sponsors

Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Alaska Airlines | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Joe Alston | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Aspen Endodontics | Glen Bailey | Kathie Bethard | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Continental Auto Group | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris | The Conway Family | Donley Family | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Foley & Pearson | JL Properties | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Amy and Jason Miller | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | Rick Mystrom | Kathleen Navarre | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Dave and DeAnne Rand | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Replacement Glass | Residential Mortgage | RSA Engineering- Sarah & A.J. Schirack | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Peter Pounds | Dan Rufner | Harlow Robinson | Pete Robinson | Moria Smith | Taylored Restoration | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Team Heat | Todd Whited | UAA Seawolves | Don Winchester

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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