Ferguson Stepping Down at Alaska for WHL Job
CHN Staff Report
Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson has resigned, and will be announced as the new head coach of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen at a news conference Tuesday, the University of Alaska confirmed Tuesday.
Ferguson, an alumnus of Alaska, has been head coach since 2008-09, and led the Nanooks to the only NCAA tournament appearance in the program's history in his second season, 2009-10.
According to reports, Ferguson was also recently a finalist for the head coaching opening with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.
"On behalf of my family and me, we want to thank the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the opportunity they have given us," Ferguson said in a statement. "This journey started in 1992 and I feel very fortunate to have been able to play, work and coach with such wonderful people throughout the years. Fairbanks is an amazing community that is made up of some of the most passionate and caring people I have ever surrounded myself with. As we move into the next chapter in our lives, we will always keep Fairbanks close to our hearts."
This will make the ninth head coach change in D-I men's hockey this offseason, and July is an unusually late time for a school to be seeking a new head coach.
Alaska athletic director Gary Gray said, "We plan to name an interim head coach as soon as possible so that the program can continue its positive, sustained growth. We are confident our Alaska Nanooks hockey program will continue to be a major component of the Western Collegiate Hockey League (WCHA), America's premier NCAA Division I hockey conference."
Ferguson, 44, is a native of Wainwright, Alberta, a town between Edmonton and Calgary. He played for the Nanooks from 1992-96. After a brief minor pro career, Ferguson eventually became an assistant at Alaska under Guy Gadowsky in 2004. After Gadowsky left for Princeton, Ferguson stayed on staff under the brief tenures of Tavis MacMillan and Doc DelCastillo, before assuming head coaching duties in 2008.
In nine seasons as head coach, including five in the CCHA and four in the WCHA, Ferguson compiled a 139-151-42 record.
The Nanooks had winning records in five of the first seven years under Ferguson, but recruiting has become an issue ever since the Alaska Board of Regents released a study suggesting Alaska's two NCAA hockey teams may have to merge or fold due to severe budget shortfalls. The state later released a statement saying that the programs would be saved in some way, though the details have not yet been determined, and it is a situation Alaska, and its brethren Alaska-Anchorage, has still been trying to recover from.
"When I first started coaching here, I never knew where it would take me," Ferguson said. "The last 13 years has truly defined me as a coach, a husband, a father and as a person. I can't begin to describe all of the lessons I have learned about myself and how living in Alaska and coaching at this university has impacted me. I will always be a Nanook and can't wait to see what this group of players will accomplish this season."