The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the membership application for an NAHL team in Anchorage, Alaska owned by NAHTSIITH LLC, an entity owned and operated by Aaron Schutt, Ryan Binkley, Kai Binkley Sims, John Ellsworth Jr, and Jay Frawner. Sims will serve as the President of the organization.
The team will be known as the Anchorage Wolverines will compete in the Midwest Division beginning in the 2021-22 season.
“We have always been interested in expanding the NAHL in the West, but the situation has to be right to in order to grow NAHL Hockey. The combination of the facility, the market, the history, and the wonderful ownership group brought forward as the Anchorage Wolverines is second to none. This organization is more than ready and capable to hit the ground sprinting and we look forward to how impactful they will be as members of the NAHL and our players in the very near future,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.
The NAHL has a long a storied history of team(s) in the state of Alaska since 2003 when the Fairbanks Ice Dogs joined the league. The Ice Dogs have established a rich and successful history in the NAHL, winning three Robertson Cup National Championships. In 2005, the Wasilla Spirit joined Fairbanks as the second NAHL team in the state. The Spirit would later become the Alaska Avalanche. In 2007, a third Alaskan-based team, the Kenai River Brown Bears, began play in the NAHL. The landscape would remain that way until the 2012-13 season when the Avalanche would relocate to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to become the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Ice Dogs and Brown Bears are currently competing in the NAHL’s Midwest Division this season.
The Anchorage Wolverines will be a part of the NAHL Midwest Division. The division will have eight teams competing in the NAHL during the 2021-22 season: Anchorage Wolverines (Anchorage, AK), Chippewa Steel (Chippewa Falls, WI), Fairbanks Ice Dogs (Fairbanks, AK), Janesville Jets (Janesville, WI), Kenai River Brown Bears (Soldotna, AK), Minnesota Magicians (Richfield, MN), Minnesota Wilderness (Cloquet, MN), and Springfield Jr. Blues (Springfield, IL).
“Our focus will be to develop players to help them achieve their hockey goals. Their talent will be showcased in action packed games that will be community-oriented events,” said Sims. “We are excited to begin building our team and working with the community to build our fan base, and form business partnerships. We hope everyone will connect with us on social media to be the first to hear more details on our official launch.”
The NAHL is in the midst of the most opportune times in its 46-year history. In the past five years, 1,500+ NAHL players have made NCAA commitments and 30 more with NAHL ties have been selected in the NHL Draft. In addition, 34% of all freshmen that played NCAA Division I hockey this past season, played in the NAHL. So far during the current 2020-21 season, 262 players have made NCAA commitments, including a record number of 250 that have made NCAA Division I commitments.
More information about the Anchorage Wolverines will be revealed during their official launch in the coming weeks.