On behalf of my readers and other Seawolf fans, please allow me (your newly acquired pseudo-Uncle Donald) to express my heartfelt welcome to the UAA Seawolves hockey team. Congratulations on reaching your goal of playing Division 1 College Hockey and welcome to the undisputed best amateur hockey league in the world. Yes, the WCHA is not surpassed in the level of skill and competition by any other amateur hockey league.
There are many ex-WCHA players who would tag the WCHA's skill level at or near that of the American Hockey League. No doubt some experts would call that a bit of a stretch. Your Uncle Donald is of the belief that in competition with a random 12 ECHL teams that the WCHA would come out on top. So even though in your mind you may just be taking the next step up from Jr. A hockey, the reality is that it's a fairly big fucking step.
You are each going to be pulling your sweater on and lacing up your skates to face some pretty elite competition. The WCHA has more than it's share of programs that attract elite level talent. Some guys that you are going to play against this season will likely be skating full time in the NHL within a couple of years. It happens regularly. Let's be honest. You are here in Anchorage now because some of those programs had no interest in you playing for them. Most of you probably didn't hear from Mike Eaves, Donnie Lucia or George Gwozdecky when you were being recruited.
The UAA Seawolves are regularly regarded as part of the lower tier in the WCHA. Truth is that our teams haven't had the big successes of some other programs. The pinnacle of UAA's success lies almost 20 years in the past now with a couple of trips to the NCAA playoffs and the well-earned moniker of "greatest upset ever in the NCAAs" when a team of nobody's just like you guys beat Bahstun Cahlluge on two consecutive nights to advance from the first round.
If there is a single tradition that has manifested itself with this program over the years, it is one of being an underdog that never fucking quits. In the big picture, our program faces a geographic obstacle that has persistently been difficult for it to overcome. It isn't an excuse (because we fucking hate excuses don't we?), but rather a reality. We're in bumfuck Alaska and that's just a long damn way from the rest of the world.
While all that doesn't necessarily sound hugely positive, it actually is for some non-hockey reasons. I guarantee that if you work hard at the game and in the classroom for 4 years here that you will come out with a greatly enhanced personal character which you would may not have earned at any other program in the country (save our ugly fucking rival up the road). It is definitely something that any number of former short-lived WCHA elite players now in the NHL have no clue about. Let's be honest again here, some of those elite players I keep mentioning are primadonnas. Their character as human beings is lacking (like um ... cough cough ... Dany Heatley).
This letter to rookies is something I first did in 2007. In 2008, I sorta strayed a bit from the concept in favor of something more whimsical. And last year I wrote this welcome letter. If you go read those you'll learn a few things about playing hockey here. The first is don't go hiking, biking or otherwise hang out in Bicentennial Park on the Rover's Run trail. Another is that over the course of your career here you are going to fly a shitload and visit a variety of cities: podunk shitholes like Fairbanks, Mankato and Bemidji; redneck wonderlands like Grand Forks, St. Cloud and Omaha; the big cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Denver; out of the way towns like Houghton and Duluth; the most fucked up city (EvAh) of Colorado Springs and finally Madison (which always seems like a decent berg to me).
One of the other things you'll learn from those links is that losing to UAF is unacceptable. Yes. UAF. They've been unsuccessfully trying to usurp the state's name by calling themselves the Alaska Nanooks because they got tired of the "you can't spell failure without UAF" signs. So don't lose to those turds ok? Don't even fucking tie them. We fans hope and expect you to win games against all your opponents but beating UAF is mandatory. Getting that part of my message yet? Good, cause it makes me a bit nauseated to even mention that place.
So that's about all that occurs to me right now. Keep your noses clean. Make smart choices. Hit the books as much as you can. Play your asses off. Enjoy the clean air and water; and get out of town to see the real Alaska whenever you get the chance. Good luck to each and every one of you. If the school, program and city are a good fit for you then you're already on the road to success.
And oh yeah ... stay away from the fucking moose. The video below was shot some years ago outside the Wells Fargo Sports Center where you practice everyday. The guy getting stomped by the moose died. Ok?