Ferguson steps down as Alaska coach, takes same job with WHL’s Hitmen

AKF-FergusonAlaska announced Tuesday that head coach Dallas Ferguson will be resigning from the program after serving at the helm for the past nine seasons.

His last official day with the Nanooks will be on August 17 before he assumes the role of head coach for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.

“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.”

Ferguson was named the program’s eighth head coach on May 15, 2008 following four years of service as an assistant coach for the Nanooks under then-head coaches Tavis MacMillan (2004-07) and Doc Delcastillo (2007-08).

“We’re excited for Dallas since this opportunity in Calgary brings him one step closer to coaching in the NHL, a life-long goal of his,” added Alaska director of athletics Dr. Gary Gra. “However, we are sad to see him leave the Alaska Nanooks, as he has been a fixture in our program for so many years. Certainly, Dallas will be greatly missed.

“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 WCHA, America’s premier NCAA Division I hockey conference.”

In nine seasons as the Nanooks’ head coach, Ferguson oversaw six seasons with winning records and led Alaska to the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. He also led the Nanooks to six Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup titles and nine nonconference tournament championships, while also being a part of Alaska squads that have defeated No. 1-ranked teams on five separate occasions.

After his inaugural year as bench boss, Ferguson was named the CCHA Coach of the Year after leading Alaska to a 17-16-6 record in 2008-09. Ferguson and the Nanooks played host to four CCHA home playoff series before overseeing the program’s transition to the WCHA in 2013-14.

Ferguson has coached over 40 Nanooks who have gone on to pursue professional hockey careers, including St. Louis Blues standout Colton Parayko, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson and 2010 Stanley Cup champion Jordan Hendry.

“One of my joys of coaching is the relationships you develop with the student-athletes [and] it’s been amazing to build these relationships and to see how they grow after their playing days have expired,” Ferguson added. “We have always focused on recruiting great people that will come in, make a difference and embrace Alaska. I’d like to thank all of the student-athletes who have come to play for me and the program. It’s a large commitment and I have always been grateful to those who chose UAF to pursue their academic and athletic goals.

“I have so many people to thank but there are two groups of people that really make this program what it is: the Nanook Hockey Alumni and the Face-Off Club. I can’t say enough about the positive impact these people make for the program and our student-athletes.”

Ferguson was a defenseman with the Nanooks from 1992 to 1996 and served as the team’s captain in his senior season. Ferguson still ranks within the top 25 on Alaska hockey’s all-time scoring list.

“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.”

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