A history of tradition and hockey at UAF

Erin McGroarty/Sun Star Reporter
December 4, 2012

The giant inflatible Nanook is an important part of hockey culture at UAF. Lauren Fisher/Sun Star

You walk into the Carlson Center. The stadium is dark and music is blasting through large speakers situated around the rink. As the stadium fills, you make your way to the student seating section at the far end of the rink. Cheers and chants erupt from the crowd as the Alaska Nanook Hockey team skates out onto the rink through a giant inflatable polar bear to the sound of Metallica’s classic “Enter Sandman.”

Every college sports team has its own peculiar habits, but it could be said that a majority of strange traditions of the Alaska Nanooks belong to the spectators and fans. The aforementioned inflatable Nanook mascot has only been part of hockey traditions for the past six years, but why exactly do University of Alaska Fairbanks students chant “What’s a sea wolf?” and why do the speakers play “Hit the Road Jack” every time a member of the opposite team is sent to the penalty box? The answer is tradition. The UAF Nanook hockey team and its spectators have always had a certain tradition based culture that they are  attached to.

Some of these strange traditions include blind hatred toward the referees, as well as the other team for that matter, beating on the plexiglass retaining walls at every possible opportunity, yelling profanities at the other team members when they are assigned to the penalty box and shouting encouraging chants toward the Nanooks following any triumphant moment in the game.

Due to the graduation of many seniors from the class of 2012, the 2012-13 team has many new faces this year. The majority of these new faces are freshman. These are business administration students, John Keeney, Matthew Friese, Alec Hajdukovich, J.D Peterson, Colton Parayko and  Nolan Huysmans, undecided major, Tyler Morley and petroleum engineering student, Josh Atkinson.

“They [the team] are very compatible,” Assistant Nanook Hockey Coach Corbin Schmidt said, “Which is a great quality to have in a game like hockey, as they have to battle along side each other on a consistent basis.”

According to Director of Media Relations, Jamie Foland, UAF has had a hockey team of some form since the mid-1920s. There were periods, mostly surrounding the two World Wars, when the program was on hiatus but most of the competitions through the mid-70s were in state against local and statewide club teams. UAF became an NCAA Division II member in the late 70’s as the first varsity season was 1979-80.

Since then, watching hockey games and the strange traditions that are associated with it have become a staple of life for sports enthusiasts attending UAF.

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