One former member of the Kenai River Brown Bears has committed to the University of Alaska Anchorage, while two more former Bears have committed to trying to make the team for next year.
Goalie Evan Hauser, who saw 20 games in net for the team last year, committed to the Seawolves on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Anchorage’s Conor Deal and Kenai’s Zack Zulkanycz will try and make the team for the 2016-17 season.
Deal played three years for the Brown Bears, then played last season for Division III Gustavus Adolphus College, where he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 25 games.
Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said Deal is transferring to UAA in order to pursue an aviation degree. He must sit out a year after transferring.
Zulkanycz played two full seasons for the Tier II Brown Bears before moving up to the Tier I United States Hockey League for 10 games last season. He then came back to Kenai River for the final 30 games of his junior career.
Beauparlant said Zulkanycz will spend a year getting his academics in line before trying to make the Seawolves next season.
Hauser had committed to Division III University of Wisconsin – River Falls before getting this late Division I opportunity.
With the Bears last season, Hauser was 2-15-1 with a 3.84 goals-against average and .888 save percentage, but Beauparlant has said those numbers are not indicative of his value.
Hauser left the Tier III Great Falls (Montana) Americans to come to the Bears. The Americans were title contenders, and Hauser was 14-0-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and .957 save percentage for them.
“This is huge for Evan,” Beauparlant said. “It’s why he accepted an offer to leave a contender to come up to be our No. 1 goalie at Christmas. It gave him the possibility to earn a Division I slot.
“Better late than never.”
Hauser starts behind sophomore Olivier Mantha and sophomore Jared D’Amico on the depth chart.
“He’s technically sound and he has excellent work ethic,” Beauparlant said of Hauser. “He’ll push the guys ahead of him and hold them accountable in practice.
“He’s very mature and he’s a great teammate.”
UAA head coach Matt Thomas told Beauparlant that Deal will be able to skate in the captain’s practices, while Zulkanycz may be able to skate in those practices.
Captain’s practices take place without the coaching staff present and are not part of the structured program.
So it will be up to Deal and Zulkanycz to do the bulk of their training alone.
“They can’t train with the hockey club and they can’t do the strength program with the hockey club,” Beauparlant said. “But if there’s two guys that can do this, I’d put my money on Zack and Conor.
“With their work ethic and their drive to succeed they’ll give themselves the best chance possible.”
Hauser joins former Brown Bears players Brad Duwe, of Soldotna, and Alex Jackstadt, of Anchorage, on the roster.
“It’s great they recognize talent in their own backyard,” Beauparlant said of UAA. “Matt has done a great job turning that program around and it’s great they trust our hockey program to deliver solid players to their hockey program.”
UAA will play Mt. Royal on Oct. 2 at 7:07 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.