The University of Alaska (Fairbanks) finally settled on a new head coach—and it's now-former assistant coach Erik Largen.
A Fairbanks native, Largen, 31, becomes the youngest head men’s ice hockey coach in NCAA Division I ranks, following Matt Curley, 35, who was tabbed as the new head coach at in-state rival Alaska Anchorage earlier this month.
Largen, who was an assistant coach at UAF over the past two seasons, is also a former backup goaltender for the Nanooks (2006-2008). According to eliteprospects.com, he entered the coaching ranks in 2009 and spent two seasons as the goaltending coach for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL). He then moved on to the Twin Cities (Minn.) Northern Lights (MNJHL) for two years as head coach, before splitting the 2013-14 campaign between Janesville (NAHL) and Tri-City (USHL) as an assistant coach.
Largen then served one season as head coach at NCAA Division III Marian (Wisc.) University, before he returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 2016. His hiring completes a process that was heavily botched by UAF administrators, one that came to a head earlier this month when first choice Brent Brekke, a former associate head coach at Miami, was chosen as the new Nanook head coach but could not come to an agreement with the university on a contract.
Lance West, the other finalist for the position, withdrew from consideration after Brekke was originally selected. West served as an interim head coach of the Nanooks last season after longtime head coach and UAF alumnus Dallas Ferguson took the head coaching job with Calgary (WHL) last summer. West, a former player for Alabama-Huntsville, had served as an assistant coach with UAF for nine years prior to his one year as head coach. Since he was labeled as an interim coach, the position had to be re-opened for applications this year.
Largen becomes the ninth head coach in the modern history of Nanook Hockey, which got its start as an independent NCAA Division II varsity program in 1979. The Nanooks, now a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, moved up to the Division I ranks in the 1980s and made their only NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in 2010 as a member of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association.