The Alaska Nanooks’ leading scorer for the last three seasons has played his final game in Blue and Gold. Junior left wing Kyle Greentree signed a two-way contract with the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers this week.
“This is everything that I wanted and more,” said Greentree, a native of Victoria, B.C. “They followed me all season, but it came down to opportunity and where my best chances would be and it was with them because of the youth in their program.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound forward is scheduled to report to the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, Tuesday.
One of the biggest factors in Greentree’s decision was the unique opportunity the Flyers’ organization presents. The Phantoms play in the Wachovia Spectrum, which is across the street from the Wachovia Center, the Flyers’ home ice rink.
Alaska head coach Tavis MacMillan said that one of Greentree’s goals from day one had been to play professional hockey.
“Kyle has worked very hard in his time with our program to achieve his goal. He’s been a great representative of our community, city, and institution and he will continue to carry the Alaska Nanooks flag and be an ambassador for our program as he moves forward with his hockey career.”
Greentree led Alaska with 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points in 39 games. He was an honorable mention to the CCHA All-Conference team.
“His size package mixed with his offensive ability was what attracted us to him,” said Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren. “We are extremely happy to have him as a part of our organization.”
He finished his career with 101 points (41 goals and 60 assists) in 115 games, making him the 28th player in Nanooks history to compile 100 or more career points. Greentree and Steve Moira (1982-85) are the only players to lead the Alaska in scoring for three straight seasons.
“Obviously, my goal was to play pro hockey,” Greentree said. “College hockey was a huge steppingstone for me. I’ve enjoyed my three years in Fairbanks. The decision to leave early was not because I was unhappy, but because I could make the next step in the right direction for my career. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Although Greentree will miss seeing friends in Fairbanks, if he plays against Norfolk this week, he will get the chance to see a familiar face on the opposing team.
Former Nanook defenseman Jordan Hendry (2002-2006) plays for the first-place Admirals (44-17-5-1), who are the Chicago Blackhawks’ top affiliate. The Phantoms, who at 25-31-2-6 are in sixth place among seven teams in the East Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference, are 36 points behind the Admirals.
Greentree was excited at the opportunity to play against his former teammate in his professional debut.
“I already talked to him (Hendry) and he knows if the puck goes in the corner I’m not going to let up. It will be nice to see a familiar face right off the bat.”
Despite losing his top scorer a year early, MacMillan was also excited for Greentree and the fact that two of his former players will potentially face off against one another this week, something that could happen more in the future.
“This year we’ve had six alumni skate with an AHL club,” he said. “It is a tough challenge to lose players as underclassmen but one of our goals is to help move them to their goals for pro hockey.”
“The reality is that the better players we bring in the more this will happen. Greener may not be the last underclassman to sign early this year.”