Alaska Women's Hockey club heads to nationals

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
March 6, 2012

The Alaska Nanooks Women’s Hockey Club has risen through the ranks of collegiate hockey for the past three years, and now the team is slated to compete for nationals. The club is the first women’s collegiate hockey team in Alaska.

These women will participate in the American Collegiate Hockey Association national tournament in Wooster, Ohio after ranking third among the West ACHA women’s hockey teams.

This is their first time attending nationals, according to their website.

They will compete against some of the remaining top West and East  teams March 10-12.

They’re expected to play against the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Rainy River Community College of Minnesota, University of Delaware, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and California University of Pennsylvania.

“New people that I meet are usually surprised like ‘Oh, I didn’t even know they had a girl’s hockey team,'” senior defenseman Erin Winters said.

The club is not included in the UAF Athletics program due to it being an independent collegiate team. Women’s hockey is not a varsity sport, which makes the team self-funded.

“We’re not as well-recognized as the men’s team, but I think that’s just because … we’re still a club team,” Winters said.

They do a lot of fundraising and have sponsor support, according to Head Coach Scott Vockeroth. Vockeroth was a Nanook Hockey Men’s Team wing from 2001-2005.

“It’s stressful, especially the money factor being a big issue for us. Not knowing if we’re gonna be able to afford those trips or how we’re gonna make ends meet,” he said. “That can be the most frustrating.”

Vockeroth said it has been difficult getting the team together, Vockeroth said. The team was founded three seasons ago at a Division 2 level.

“Now that we’re getting further along in the process we’re learning what it takes to run a team and we’re getting better every year,” he said.

With the championships approaching and 15 players to seat on the plane, costs are estimated to reach about $30,000 for the season according to Vockeroth. The team was only able to play seven games this season due to traveling expenses. It hosted wine tastings and casino nights as fundraisers. The team also made  calendars, which are currently available.

“We’re all working here to raise money so that we can afford to actually go to nationals,” defenseman Lauren Bradley said.

The women have put in a lot of hard work, but they have not let it get their spirits down.

“Knowing that even though you’re up at 7:30 in the morning, you’re working towards something that’s a really big deal, which is going to nationals,” Winters said.

The team will first face the University of Delaware on Saturday, March 10, and Rainy River Community College of Minnesota on Sunday, March 11, hoping to advance to the semifinal round on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. AST. On Monday, March 12, the semifinal winners will compete for nationals at Wooster’s Alice Noble Ice Arena.

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