WASILLA — As Chancie Hanson continues to climb the hockey ladder, the former Wasilla Warriors standout can’t help but think of something his old Wasilla High coach, Bill Sturdevant, used to say.
“Bill would tell me — he’d tell the whole team — the worst time to get complacent is after a big victory. It’s time to work even harder,” Hanson said recently.
Hanson has celebrated the big victory. Earlier this year as a member of the NA3HL’s North Iowa Bulls, the Wasilla native helped lead his team to a Tier III junior hockey national title. Now, on the verge of taking the next step in his hockey career, Hanson continues to recall those words of his old coach as he prepares for his next hockey endeavor.
Hanson, a 2012 graduate of Wasilla High School, has signed a tender with the Kenai River Brown Bears and is in good position to earn a spot on the roster of the Tier II Junior A North American Hockey League team.
A team uses a tender to take a player out of the NAHL draft pool. The Bears had limited tenders this year because they traded so many away.
“I’m pretty stoked. It’s pretty cool to have all the hard work pay off and have an opportunity to move up,” Hanson said.
Hanson is not assured of a spot on the roster. He’ll have to participate in the team’s main camp, which is scheduled for early August in Minnesota. But Brown Bears coaches thought highly of Hanson, a 6-foot defenseman, during the team’s Alaska tryout camp Hanson attended in Anchorage in May.
The Bears are already stocked with veteran defensemen. Vince Stefan, currently healing from a broken ankle sustained in the playoffs, and Jake Davidson return for their third year on the blue line. Jake Bushey and Judd Loewenstein return for their second year, while Carson Vance also could be back for a second year if he doesn’t make it in the Tier I United States Hockey League.
“They were telling me they kind of have a need for old guys on the blue line,” Hanson said.
Hanson, who turns 20 in November, will enter his final year of junior hockey eligibility when his skates hit the ice in the fall.
Hanson joked that, “Obviously my points from last year aren’t going to make anybody’s mouth water.”
But the blueliner did put up decent numbers for a defenseman, a goal and nine assists in 29 games. Better than that, he was a plus-23 during the regular season. In eight NA3HL playoff games, Hanson was a plus-8 with four assists. Hanson had an assist in four games during the Tier III national tournament. But Hanson knows there are other attributes that can make him successful with the Brown Bears.
“They saw what I could bring to the table as a solid blueliner. Make a good first pass, simple stuff,” Hanson said.
Hanson has also had the reputation of being a good leader and could be put in that role as a veteran defenseman with the Brown Bears.
“Hanson was a nice surprise as we hadn’t seen much of him recently,” Kenai head coach Oliver David said recently in a press release issued by the Brown Bears. “He is a smooth skating defenseman with the priceless experience of going all the way last year. We look forward to Chancie competing to earn a spot on our game day roster in the fall.”
Hanson said he’s excited about the chance to play for the Brown Bears and realize his ultimate goal of earning the chance to play college hockey. While he’ll never discount an opportunity to skate for a Division I program, Hanson is facing an excellent chance of being picked up by a Division III program.
“I’m really positioned to succeed,” Hanson said. “If I do make (the Kenai team) it’ll be really awesome. A lot more Division III offers will open.”
In the meantime, Hanson said he continues to put in the work.
“Get bigger,” Hanson said. “Keep working harder.”