Eagle River hockey under new leadership
With no seniors on the team last year, Eagle River’s varsity hockey roster is nearly identical for the 2012-13 campaign.
Expect when it comes to the top position — head coach.
Bill Comer is entering his first year running the Wolves’ program and his first year in high school hockey.
Though Kirby Senden isn’t returning as coach, he’s still part of the program.
“He’s been helping us get started,” Comer said. “He’s not totally removed from the process.”
Watching Eagle River and Chugiak face off in front of a packed McDonald Center the past couple years is what attracted Comer to the job.
“I really wanted to be part of that,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere to be in.”
Comer knows his new rivals well. He said he’s friends with Mustangs’ head coach Rod Wild, and Comer’s coached alongside recent Alaska High School Hall of Fame inductee Paul Braneus.
“I learned a lot off of him,” Comer said of the former Chugiak coach who won three state titles.
Comer, who’s coached hockey for three decades, is familiar with his team, too, having coached some of them when they were Mites.
Although, they’re slightly taller this time around.
“They’ve grown up a bit,” Comer said. “I’m looking up to them now.”
While senior night wasn’t much of an affair last year, it will be a huge event this season as the Wolves have 11 12th graders on the team.
“We’ve got a nice core coming back,” Comer said. “There’s a lot of leadership on the team.”
One of the key returners will be senior Brett Wood, an All-CIC selection last year.
The multitude of returners makes the transition to a new coach easier, Comer said, as does help from his assistant coaches Ross and Aaron Johnson.
“I’m excited about the season,” Comer said. “I have high expectations for these kids.”
One of those expectations is making the state tournament.
“We want to be playing in February,” Comer said.
The Wolves held two-a-day practices — on ice and dry land training — for two weeks to prepare for their season opener against West on Oct. 30.
“We’ve been working pretty hard,” Comer said.
After falling 2-1 to West, Eagle River lost a 3-1 game to Service on Saturday, Nov. 3. On Nov. 3, the Wolves dropped a 4-2 decision to non conference Wasilla.
Five days prior to the first game, Comer said he couldn’t wait to get his inaugural high schools season under way.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try,” he said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].