The 21st edition of one of the best early-season collegiate tournaments in the country, the Kendall Hockey Classic, returns to the George M. Sullivan Arena on Oct. 7-8.
This year’s Classic will showcase host Alaska Anchorage as the Seawolves look to claim their first title since 2006 and sixth overall. Making their sixth appearance in the tournament is in-state rival Alaska Fairbanks, while Clarkson University and St. Cloud State will be dressing for the Classic for the first time.
For the first four years after its rebirth in 1999, the tournament champion was based on overall win-loss record. The 2003 and 2004 Classics changed to a true tournament format, with the winners of the opening contests meeting in the championship game. The format switched back to overall win-loss record in 2007, which continues this year.
Here’s a brief look at the 2011 field:
ALASKA ANCHORAGE SEAWOLVES
Coming off a historic season in 2010-11 that included the most victories since joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the program’s second-ever berth to the WCHA Red Baron Final Five, UAA has the momentum rolling as it aims for the title of its own tournament.
The 2011-12 Seawolf roster commences the season as one of the youngest in the country, sporting nine sophomores and nine freshmen. The rookies will look to the leadership of the upperclassmen, who feature three seniors and eight juniors.
Leading the Seawolf pack offensively will be a pair of sophomores in Matt Bailey and Jordan Kwas. The Canadian duo combined for just under 20 percent of the point production from last season.
Two Anchorage locals – senior Brad Gorham and junior Scott Warner – will hold the defensive line, while sophomore goaltenders Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal could split time again in the crease.
ALASKA FAIRBANKS NANOOKS
Backstopping the Nanooks as Alaska Fairbanks looks for its third title in four years will be the Classic’s 2009 Most Outstanding Player, senior goaltender Scott Greenham.
Since suiting up between the pipes fulltime in 2009, Greenham has led UAF to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10 and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championships last season.
The Nanooks will look for goal scoring from sophomore Cody Kunyk, a member of the Classic’s all-tournament team in 2010, who led UAF last season with 30 points, and junior Andy Taranto.
From the blueline, senior Aaron Gens returns after contributing 2-19–21 totals a year ago.
CLARKSON GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Clarkson Golden Knights will not only enter the Kendall Hockey Classic for the first time ever, but will be led by first-time head coach Casey Jones and his newly appointed staff. Jones takes the Golden Knight reins after spending the last three seasons as associate coach at Cornell University.
Jones will look to lead his team to prominence with 20 lettermen returning, which made up 70 percent of the point scoring from last season.
The Golden Knights will likely see offensive production from sophomore forward Allan McPherson, who tallied 8-15–23 totals in 2010-11, and senior forwards Jake Morley (7-15–22) and Nick Tremblay (9-12–21).
Defensively, David Pratt and Alex Boak return for their sophomore season after registering nine points apiece last year, while senior Paul Karpowich (.912sv%, 3.05 gaa, 15-18-2) will dress between the pipes.
ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES
Also making their inaugural appearance in the Classic, the Huskies enter the 2011-12 slate under the guidance of seventh-year head coach Bob Motzko. Under his tutelage, SCSU has four showings at the WCHA Final Five, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago.
Senior Jared Festler and junior Drew LeBlanc will lead a young team that features 10 freshmen and seven sophomores. LeBlanc topped the team with 13 goals and 39 points, while Festler contributed with 12-12–24 totals.
The Huskies defense will be spearheaded by the return of sophomore Nick Jensen (5-18–23) and junior netminder Mike Lee. Lee suited up for SCSU in 30 games, producing a 12-14-4 record and a .910 save percentage.