Seattle Kraken Scores the Assist for the University of Alaska Anchorage

Seattle Kraken Scores the Assist for the University of Alaska Anchorage
December 17, 2021 by Danny Martin


The Save the Seawolves campaign recently surpassed its goal of $3 million in fundraising to help the University of Alaska Anchorage keep its NCAA Division I hockey program. The Alaska Board of Regents, according to the Associated Press, cut the program last year but said it could be saved if supporters raised $3 million, or an amount needed to cover two years of operating costs. Surpassing the $3-million goal, however, didn't mean the work was done.

"We're continuing to raise money,'' Kathie Bethard, chairman of the Save Seawolves Hockey Program campaign. "The giving doesn't stop when we reach $3 million. We're going to need the continued support of this program."

The Seawolves are scheduled to return to the ice for the 2022-23 season. The National Hockey League's Seattle Kraken was among the nearly 1,200 donors who helped Save the Seawolves campaign. The expansion franchise donated about $150,000 to the campaign.

On Nov. 19, the Kraken played the Colorado Avalanche at Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena. Before the game and during intermissions,  the Kraken recognized the campaign and hockey in Alaska, including at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks. The recognitions included a video of Nanooks head coach Erik Largen and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the Tier II Junior A-level North American Hockey League.

Sports Management Worldwide founder and President Dr. Lynn Lashbrook was the UAF athletic director from 1987-93.

"Hockey is an incredible sport and college hockey is an incredible product; so I'm blessed to be a part of it,'' Lashbrook, who attended the game, said by phone.

Scott Roselius, president of the Alaska Nanooks Hockey Alumni Association, also attended the game and assisted people involved with the Save the Seawolves campaign. "I was involved because some of their alumni reached out to me because I'm president of our hockey alumni (association),'' said Roselius by phone, "and they were just trying to pick my brain on some of  the things we've done fund-raising wise for success."

The Kraken, before the game against the Avalanche, had its first ceremonial puck drop, and it features three people involved with Save the Seawolves — Kraken; new UAA head coach Matt Shasby; and Sean Parnell, UAA Chancellor and a former governor of Alaska.

"Thrilling is the best (description) for it, I guess,'' Bethard said of participating in the historical puck drop. "It was amazing to be in that beautiful arena, at center ice, and see all the fans recognizing Alaskan hockey and recognizing the Seawolves and what we did as far as saving the program.
… It was awe-inspiring. The ownership of the Kraken franchise stepped up and helped us through that last month of our campaign. They stepped in when we really needed an additional spark, I think."

Shasby, a former Seawolves skater, said the faceoff was "one of the cooler, more unique experiences, obviously, of my professional career. "The Seattle Kraken,'' he added, "showed an incredible, high level of character, by one, by supporting us through the Save the Seawolves efforts and helping us reach our goals."