Despite tough times, UA president believes UAA hockey has a future
University of Alaska President Dr. Jim Johnsen hasn't lost faith in UAA hockey.
"I'm confident it will be strong," said Johnsen.
It's a welcome endorsement given the condition of the program.
The Seawolves are looking for stability after they went 4-26-4 in 2017-18. That's the second-lowest win total in school history.
The season marked the last for head coach Matt Thomas, who was let go at the end of his fifth season.
"We'll get a strong coach in, I'm confident of that. There is a strong hockey community in Anchorage and I'm very optimistic that community will rally around Seawolf hockey, and we can get it cranked up again," Johnsen said.
Another good sign for Seawolf supporters, considering the team nearly found itself off the ice for good back in 2016 for budget reasons.
Regents, at the time, also considered the merger of athletic programs of UAA and UAF, but distance doomed the plan.
"One simple challenge was 350 miles between the two schools, that's kind of a problem," said Johnsen.
Hockey costs UAA nearly $2 million a season to run -- easily it's most expensive sport. As the losses pile up on the scoreboard, the ledger is also taking a hit; it continues to lose money. Still, Johnsen believes the players and the program demonstrate value beyond the dollars.
"They're great leaders, that's one of the things you learn in athletics, is how to lead and how to work hard, and how to be disciplined. Those practices one learns in competition are extremely valuable in the classroom and once the students graduate," says Johnsen.
But life lessons don't pay the bills and now it'll take more than even state aide to keep the engine humming.
"It's really going to take a lot of that private and community support to make it go," Johnsen said.
If the Seawolves want to stay on the ice, it's clear, they'll need more goals and dollar signs.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.