The hockey program at University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and hockey as a whole in the state of Alaska, has had a nervous last year. In October, 2016 amid a budget crisis in the state of Alaska it was rumored that the programs at UAF and Alaska-Anchorage may be on the cutting block. Luckily, the programs survived this budget cut, but budget cuts have continued for the next academic year as well putting the long term health of each program in murky waters. Those waters were made a little more unclear Monday as it was reported that Dallas Ferguson has left his position as head coach of the Nanooks.
Ferguson, an Alberta native, is leaving the NCAA game to pursue a coaching opportunity with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. The Hitmen were in need of a coach after Mark French left to pursue a job in the Swiss league. Ferguson, a former Nanooks defensemen, has been leading the UAF program as head coach since 2008-09 and was an assistant starting in 2004. He compiled a 139-151-42 record in his time as the leading man in Fairbanks, including an NCAA appearance in 2010.
This will not be an easy coaching position to fill for the Nanooks, as it may be hard to convince an outside candidate that the program is safe during their tenure. This was already one of the hardest recruiting sells in the NCAA and news like the past year has brought on will not make it any easier. It may be likely that an assistant on staff will be elevated to the head position. Lance West has been as assistant with UAF the entirety of Ferguson’s tenure and Erik Largen, a Fairbanks native, just finished up his first season behind the bench, meaning West is probably the favorite. That is if he wants the job.