The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 10
BY JON SCHWARTZ 1 DAILY SPORTS WRITER
t's a long and winding road that leads from
Fairbanks, Alaska to Ann Arbor. By air, it's a
13-hour experience that starts in Fairbanks and
heads to Anchorage, Alaska and then to Seattle,
next to Detroit and finally to the home of the
University of Michigan.
It's a grueling 4,200-mile journey that, when
combined with the four-hour time difference, is
extremely difficult on the body.
But for the Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team, it's
just another roadtrip to the Midwest.
One of the cornerstones of the acronym CCHA is
the first letter - Central, as in the central United
States. Compared to the league's other 11 teams,
Fairbanks, Alaska is anything but central, but that
didn't stop the Nanooks from being granted admis-
sion to the conference before the 1992-1993 season
on a preliminary basis, and then becoming a full
member before the 1995-1996 season.
Since that time, the players have had to deal with
exhausting weekend roadtrips that require tremen-
dous amounts of physical adjustment and maturity
as they develop their bodies to handle the travel.
"I'm really not used to it quite yet:' right wing
Paul Austin said. "Bein a freshman, it's something
new. I played junior hockey in Manitoba, and most
of our games were pretty close. It's something new,
but it's an experience and it's quite exciting."
Somehow, the players do find a way to get accus-
tomed to what is a hellish amount of work and com-
mitment. By the time they reach their senior year,
they develop an appreciation for the experience that
playing for the program affords them.
"I love coming down here -- It's just a lot of
fun,' assistant captain Ryan Reinheller said. "I'xec
never been down here except to play hockey and
now it's my fourth year. I don't really worry about
the jet ag anymore. It's just kind of routine now. I
just come ready to go"
But the Nanooks' stoiy is far more interesting than
the team's travel schedule. There are so many intrigu-
ing questions surrounding the program that makes it
by far the most unique ofthe 12 CCHA schools.
With only one other Divison I hockey program in
the state, the Nanooks were in -many ways a team
without a center when they began play in 1979.
They played different schools and clubs from
around the United States and Canada before
becoming a charter member of the Great West
Hockey Conference in 1985, along with Northern
Arizona, Alaska-Anchorage and U.S. International.
While the Nanooks were successful in their new
conference, winning the GWIHC crown in 1988,
they chose to head for the greener pastures of the
CCHA, college hockey's midwestern conference,
in 1992. Meanwhile, Alaska-Anchorage, the other
Division I program in Alaska, joined the Western
College Hockey Association.
But convincing the league's members that
accepting them into the league would be a good
idea was one of the tougher tasks that the Fairbanks
athletic department faced.
An agreement was reached that the school would
subsidize CCHA teams' trips to the Last Frontier.
Now, Nebraska-Omaha. the newest member of the
conference, is the only team that pays to fly to
But for the team that makes the transcontinental
flight the most. the struggles are on a much larger
scale than adjusting to and paying for the flights.
Often the student gets left out of the phrase stu-
dent athlete. For Alaska-Fairbanks hockey players,
playing about 15 games a season in the Midwest
makes being a student extremely difficult.
When Michigan goes on the road to play a con-
terence game at a school such as Ohio State, the
The Alaska Fairbanks hockey team travels from Alaska to the schools of the CCHA in sometimes exhausting fashion.
The Alaska Fairbanks hockey team is located more
than 4.000 miles away from most schools in the
Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Yet despite the
great distance and huge cost, the Nanooks joined the
conference in 1992. A few facts about the program:
Shares airfare and lodging expenses for nine-of-
10 CCHA teams.
. Flies more than 15 transcontinental flights per season.
Relies on corporate sponsors, fundraisers and
donations for all expenses.
Earned its first victory in eight years over
Michigan at Yost Ice Arena this past Saturday.
team leaves Ann Arbor on Friday, plays the Friday
night game, stays over through the Saturday night
contest and dives home either Saturday night or
Sunday. It translates into one class day missed, and
since most athletes don't schedule classes on Friday,
there is little concei for missing anything.
Thingos are not so easy up in Alaska..
This past weekend's trip to Ann Arbor saw the
Nanook players leaving Fairbanks at II p.m.
Wednesday night. Alaska time. They arrived at
Detroit Metro Airport at 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time
'Tihe team practiced at Yost from 7:00 to 7:50
p.m. before heading out for a team meal and then
retiring to the Days Inn Ann Arbor for the night.
"I'm looking forward to getting to bed tonight,.
freshman Ryan C ampbell said upon landing in
Because of the long travel times, the players
have to find ways to make their studies fit in with
their strenuous schedules.
"We alyays try to bring some books on the
road, Reinheller said. "If we're going to miss any-
thin g. we alwavs make it up when we get back. We
just try to work with (our professors) and they
work with us:'
To play for Fairbanks requires a motivation toward
work that few student athletes around the country can
claim to have. Especially when the team was on the
road for three out of the past four weekends.
The Nanooks' last road trip before Michigan was
a trip to Bowling Green on October 27-28. With a
shoxvdown in Columbus the next weekend the teami
chose not to go back to Fairbanks only to return to
the Midwest the next weekend.
Instead, the Nanooks staved in Columbus
through the two game series with the Buckeyes
and in the process, missed eight days of classes.
Still, the players find a way to persevere.
"It's not too bad." sophomore goaltender Lance
Mayes said. "The teachers understand our circum-
stance and they help us deal with that. They let us
make up our tests and so forth.
"Even last week, we had study sessions in Ohio
State so that allowed us time to use the computers
and catch up on things that needed to be done'"
With all of the trials of'playing for Alaska-
Fairbanks, one would think that a weekend at
home is complete bliss for the players.
Oddly, according to coach Guy Gadowsky, that
is not always the case.
"In Fairbanks, hockey is kin," lie said. "If
you're a Division I hockey player in Fairbanks,
everybody knows you so there are a lot of
demands on your time and this xvav they get a
chance to relax, catch up on some studies and
catch up on some rest.
"I actually look forward to it to get some rest
and I think some of the guys feel the same way.
There are no rinks, there's no weight room and no
-Sometimes, there's also the added bonus of
escaping the frigid Fairbanks weather.
When the players got off the plane on Thursday
they were wearing their standard issue short-
sleeve polos with the Alaska-Fairbanks logo. Few
wore a coat to face the 40-degree temperatures.
The predicted weather for Fairbanks this week
is about 10- to 15-degrees colder than that in Ann
Arbor. But during the later winter months. when
the average temperature in Fairbanks is around 12
degrees, a trip to Ohio State might just as well be
J.unior Bobby Andrews sunImmed up the difter-
ence in climate very simply.
"It's a lot colder there than it is here, that's for
sure," he said.
And at the end of the day, the experience of
playing for A laska-Fairbanks is about as expansive
as they come. For a predominantly Canadian
group of college students, the program offers the
chance to visit parts of the United States - say,
Ferris State's Big Rapids -- that probably fall
short of typical vacation spots.
The best jazz for the best price.
LARA & REYES STEVE COLE
World Jazz Between Us
THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER
The Spirit Of St. Louis
'M' golf snatches up
two more recruits
The Michigan men's golf team has
signed two golfers for next season.
Michigan coach Jim Carras broughtJ
in Jimmy Wisinski out of Forest Hills
Northern in Grand Rapids and Mark
McIntosh from Gavlord.
"I couldn't be happier to have Jimmy
and Mark join the program," Carras said
in a released statement. "Mark has a
solid game and just needs to get some
experience. Jimmy is a strong player
with a lot of experience. Both need
maturing, but I am very pleased that they
are coming aboard.
Wisinski finished third in the state
at Division I state finals. McIntosh
Continued from Page 9
Michigan was successful in doing this
as Moore and Young scored seven of the
Wolverines' first 10 points.
Moore finished with nine points and
six rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
"I liked the pace tonight Ellerbe
said. "It kept us fresh, it allowed us to do
some things offensively."
After Michigan built a cushy 84-57
second-half lead, the Broncos used a
late run to cut the margin down to 84-
But a 3-pointer by Groninger ended
any upset hopes Western Michigan
might have had.
Michigan's next game is at home
against Wagner on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Wagner scored at least 110 points in
every game this season.
"I just want to worry about tomor-
row," Ellerbe said.
GARRER-A'.I Tixw: Last night's vic-
tory had more firsts than just the first
win of the season for Michigan.
The game also marked the first time
junior walk-on Ron Garber has played in
an organized game since middle school
Continued from Page 9
glorious scoring chances on just
poor coverage comiing back.
"When you recruit highly-skilled
players like we do, and then you
have to teach them how to check,
some of them just can't get the puck
out of their heads. As soon as theW
puck turns over, they sleep."
In light of the injuries that the
Wolverines have suffered on
defense in this past week, this prob-
lem becomes even more alarming.
MCL iinjuries have sidelined blue-
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