Root for These Alaska Sport Teams

10/01/2014
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For a variety of reasons, Alaska doesn’t have any major professional NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB or MLS teams. But that doesn’t mean Alaskans don’t participate in sports. While you’re visiting, you can still catch a game, drink a pint and root for the home team!

Hockey

Alaska Aces

The Anchorage-based Alaska Aces are far and away Alaska’s most popular sports team. Between 4,000 and 5,000 fans regularly pack into Sullivan Arena, a.k.a. The Sully, to watch the Aces play.

The Brabham Cup, which goes to the East Coast Hockey League team that scores the most points during the regular season, has gone to the Aces for four years running. The Aces are also defenders of the Kelly Cup for winning the play-off championship last year, and they hold the record for most championships won, total, with three. If you’ve never been to a hockey game, watch for the Three Stars at the end of the match, when a third party decides who the three best players of the game were and honors one as First Star.

Basketball

Great Alaska Shootout

Okay, so it’s not exactly a team, but the Great Alaska Shootout is an annual tournament worth seeing if you get a chance. The Great Alaska Shootout has brought serious ballers like Dwayne Wade and Tim Duncan to Anchorage. Hosted by the University of Anchorage at The Sully, the Shootout has brought men’s and women’s NCAA Division I teams from around the country to Anchorage every Thanksgiving since 1978.

The tournament was established to give the University of Alaska’s basketball team more exposure, and it did so by taking advantage of an NCAA loophole that limits regular-season games to 28 within the contiguous 48 states. Since Alaska isn’t part of the contiguous 48, the teams they invite to participate don’t lose any games from their regular season. Pretty smart, right?

Baseball

Alaska Goldpanners

Based in Fairbanks, the Goldpanners’ claim to fame is their extraordinary record of 29 Alaska Baseball League championships since the team’s founding in 1960. That means they’ve won a championship more than half the time they’ve been a team! They’ve also won six National Baseball Congress championships, and frequently win the annual Midnight Sun Game, which they host. Of the 54 years they’ve hosted, they’ve won 41 times.

If you’re in Fairbanks in June, you have to see the Midnight Sun Game. It’s played in Fairbanks every summer solstice when the sun is out for 23 hours. The game starts 10:30 at night and finishes around 1:30 in the morning.

You can catch the Goldpanners and the Midnight Sun Game at the outdoor fields in Fairbanks’ Growden Memorial Park.

Anchorage Glacier Pilots & Anchorage Bucs

These are two formidable Anchorage-based summer baseball teams. They’re members of the Alaska Baseball League and play at Mulcahy Stadium. The 4th of July game between the Glacier Pilots and the Bucs always packs out the 3,500-seat park. They play with wooden bats almost every night of the summer, so if you’re looking for old-fashioned, all-American baseball, these are your teams.

So for your next trip, take in a game and cheer on a local team. They are always fun and exciting, and a great way to immerse yourself in local sport traditions.

Posted in: Alaska Activities
Tags: activity, sports