Group launches fundraiser to save university hockey team

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Supporters have started a fundraising drive to save the University of Alaska, Anchorage, hockey team.

Save Seawolf Hockey, the group behind the fundraiser, has until February to bring in $3 million to prevent the University of Alaska Board of Regents from eliminating the program, The Anchorage Daily News reported this week.

School Chancellor Cathy Sandeen in August proposed eliminating hockey, alpine skiing and gymnastics in response to state funding cuts.

The Board of Regents said in September that it would consider keeping the programs if they can raise enough money to cover two years of operating costs.

Under those terms, gymnastics must raise $880,000, the ski team needs $628,000 and hockey requires $3 million to stay alive.

“We’re not looking just to save the program, we’re looking to sustain it,” Save Seawolf Hockey chairwoman Kathie Bethard said.

Save Seawolf Hockey, organized by the university’s hockey boosters, alumni and others, had raised $150,000 in donations and pledges as of Monday.

The group recently secured a promise from the Eugene Giza Fund to match every gift up to $250,000 before Feb. 15.

“What we need is for some of the larger corporations to step up,” Bethard said.

The university’s hockey team began in 1979 and has produced dozens of alumni who have coached and mentored thousands of youth players in Anchorage.

“I grew up in Anchorage, and most of my coaches were ex-UAA players,” Anchorage firefighter Joey Crabb said. “I went on to play in the NHL, and I give a ton of credit to those ex-UAA players.”

Matt Curley, who is entering his third season coaching the university team, attended an event Monday with a small group of players to encourage donations.

“Selfishly, I’d like a few more years,” Curley said. “This is something worth fighting for, something worth saving, and I encourage all of you to be a part of it.”

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