The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Arizona State University hockey teams have a unique rivalry, although they’ve only met three times.
The Nanooks, of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and Sun Devils, an NCAA Division I independent program, get reacquainted at 7:07 p.m. today and Saturday in the Carlson Center.
The Nanooks are an answer to a trivia question when it comes to the Sun Devils, but the two teams have a few things in common, too.
The trivia question is: Which team did Arizona State defeat for its first varsity college hockey victory?
The answer is the Nanooks, who fell 2-1 in the teams’ first meeting Oct. 10, 2015, in the Kendall Hockey Classic at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The Nanooks and Sun Devils, along with the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, are the only Division I hockey programs west of the Rockies.
The Nanooks, and Sun Devils also played in the NCAA Division I Tournament in 2010 and last season, respectively.
“I think it’s good,” Nanooks head coach Erik Largen, during Wednesday’s practice at the Carlson Center, said of the rivalry.
“We’re a couple of the few teams that are in the West, and we pretty much have an endless going back and forth — it’s home and away, home and away,” Largen said while alluding to schedule of games between the teams.
The Nanooks were swept by the Sun Devils 3-0 and 5-0, respectively, on Oct. 6 and 7, 2018, in Arizona.
The Nanooks enter this weekend’s series atop the WCHA at 5-5-0 overall and 4-2-0-0 conference for 12 points in the standings. The Nanooks are coming off a last week’s conference home split against Bemidji State, winning 3-1 Saturday after losing 4-0 Friday to the Beavers, of Bemidji, Minnesota.
Arizona State, 5-3-0, is on a four-game winning streak after beating host Air Force 3-0 and 5-2, respectively, on Oct. 18 and 19, and defeating visiting Quinnipiac 5-3 and 4-1 last weekend.