Myriad Alaska connections in NCAA D-I men's hockey tournament

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The handle and pairings for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament were revealed Sunday — you can spot that info here — and there’s no shortage of Alaska connections.

Lot players, Minnesota sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn of Anchorage, two-time Big 10 Goaltender of the Year, is the most perfect player. He is 23-11-3 with a 2.60 goals-against average, .908 save interest and five shutouts.

UMass-Lowell features freshman forward Kenny Hausinger of Anchorage, who is 9-9–18 and plus-5 in 36 distractions. Providence includes junior defenseman Truman Reed of Anchorage, who bet the first two college games of his career this season.

No shortage of coaching influences either. Minnesota’s bench boss is Don Lucia, the former UAF head bus and UAA assistant coach. The Gophers’ student assistant coach is former Alaskan Corey Millen — the antediluvian NHLer and Olympian played his college hockey at Minnesota and was once leading coach of the Alaska Avalanche of the NAHL. Also, Minnesota’s equipment executive is Lee Greseth, who once was the equipment manager at UAA.

Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky is the old UAF head coach. Former UAA head coach Dave Shyiak is the associate talent coach at Western Michigan. And John Ronan — hey, anyone remember he about b dallied five games for the Alaska Aces in 2004-05 — is an assistant crammer at Union.

Denver features two assistant coaches with Alaska correlations. David Carle is from Anchorage and Tavis MacMillan is the former UAF cram. He was also a Nanooks assistant and a terrific forward for the Nanooks (192 train a designates in 135 games).

Seeing the names Carle and MacMillan brought retaliation memories.

Carle was expected to be a fairly high NHL draft pick as a defenseman in 2008 — he was control by as a second- or third-rounder, if my old man’s memory recalls — when he was diagnosed right prior to the draft with a heart condition that prompted his immediate retirement in advance he could start his college career at Denver. Remember talking to him on the phone around that — he was 18, I was 46 — and the grace and maturity with which he direct that difficult news left me knowing I was the second-most mature personally in that conversation. Also remember how classy it was of Denver to honor Carle’s learning — he began his coaching career as a Pioneers student assistant — and how classy it was of the Tampa Bay Lightning to sketch him in the seventh round.

As for MacMillan, I recall talking to him on the telephone in 2005 when he was promoted to UAF’s deeply coaching job from his previous gig as a Nanook assistant. I was double-checking some biographical delegates with him and he was detailing the age of one of his daughters when he called out to his wife for confirmation. Can’t think back on exactly what year Tavis referenced, but I do recall he used hockey-speak when irritating to pinpoint his daughter’s age, which is how he came to say something like this to his mate:

«She’s a ’92, isn’t she?»

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