More about Britton, who made the trip to Anchorage this past weekend to reunite with some former UAF classmates and cheer his beloved Nanooks on to Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup glory…
Are you a UAF alumnus, or otherwise connected to the school:
I've been affiliated with UAF in about every capacity you can be. I came here initially as a student and graduated in 2010. I've been a staff member in varying capacities, as well as an adjunct faculty for a few years. I still work for the University and love the institution. I told myself I was going to stay until they effectively paid me back for going to school here while my wife went to Graduate School, but that time has since come and gone. And we're still here going strong.
I love Nanooks hockey because:
Of the Fairbanks community and its proud history. When I came to UAF, hockey was everything here. I can't think of a game that I've willingly missed since I've lived here. It's just a part of my life now. We have had some truly special talent come through this program since I've been here--Jordan Hendry, Kyle Greentree, Chad Johnson, Dion Knelsen, Andy Taranto, Cody Kunyk, Colton Beck, Colton Parayko, just to name a few. Watching these guys on the ice here, then getting to watch them prosper and develop into professional athletes is a great moment of institutional pride. When you hear announcers like Doc Emerick or the like on TV talk about our guys playing college hockey in Fairbanks, that's special. It's something that probably a lot of fans from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and some of the bigger schools probably take for granted to some extent. But outside of the glamour of pro hockey, the culture around the program since I've gotten to know it has been to develop leaders. There are so many former Nanooks (and not just hockey) that came here from all over to play that still call Fairbanks their home. They've started businesses, families, and set down roots here now long after they've graduated. And I can guarantee you that any one of them will tell you how special this place really is.
My favorite hockey memory is:
The 2009-2010 season, which was my final year as a student. Down the stretch, the Nanooks rattled off a 10-game unbeaten streak, in the middle of that was the Governor's Cup. Back in the day, students organized bus trips to Anchorage for the games, which at that time, was only for one game a year. I spent over 16 hours on a bus between Friday and Saturday to get to Anchorage for the game and then back for the 2nd game in Fairbanks for the home-and-home series. That bus was loaded, we were rowdy, and turned the Sullivan Arena into a home game. A buddy of mine put a video together of that weekend, actually, and it still gets me amped up every time I watch it! The season culminated not long after that with the program's first bid to the NCAA tournament. The game against Boston College--the number 1 seed and eventual national champions--was a nail biter and a close game the whole way through. After that, the Eagles ran through the rest of the tournament like a hot knife through butter, crushing Miami 7-1 and Wisconsin 5-0 in the Frozen Four to take the title. But despite the loss, the Nanooks were the only team really that pushed BC to the brink, and to think of what could have happened if the Nanooks' shot hadn't hit the post in the last minute of the game.
What I'm most looking forward to about the rest of the 2017-18 season is:
I'm planning to make the trek to Houghton for the rematch against Michigan Tech in mid-January. The Nanooks and Huskies have had a pretty good rivalry going the past few years, and I've got a few friends down there that we plan to hang out with. Should be a fun series. Typically, January vacations for folks up here equate to Hawaii or some other sunny destination. Not for us. We're going to the UP for hockey, but I'm sure it'll be warmer there anyway! Other than that, the Nanooks are headed in the right direction with Lance West. With a 3-1 record and 9 points over the last 4 games, and with some improved special teams the Nanooks are poised to be solid contenders here for the second half of the season. Hopefully looking at some home ice for the WCHA playoffs, and maybe more.
Describe WCHA hockey in one word or phrase:
Underrated. With the conference realignment, a lot of teams were separated from their more established rivals. The Nanooks were united with theirs in Anchorage, and having league points on the line is a big deal. While the rivalry has been a bit one-sided in recent history, the end of the 2013-14 season proves how crazy it can get, despite the Nanooks being on the wrong end of that one. There's a lot of good hockey teams in this conference, and any of them can compete with any team in the country.