The first time Kristofer Carlson sees his new home of Alaska will be when he gets off the plane Tuesday in Anchorage, just two days after his 21st birthday.
“I’ve never been to Alaska. I report Tuesday, and that’ll be my first time there,” Carlson added.
The native of Centreville, Va., and New Jersey Hitmen goalie committed to the University of Alaska at Anchorage on Aug. 16, and is happy to have the deal come together so quickly and definitively.
“The Alaska-Anchorage coaching staff and I both know we needed to move quickly, and we got to see each other’s true colors right away,” said Carlson. “We both liked what we saw.”
The Seawolves are getting the National Collegiate Development Conference’s 2017-18 leader in goals against average (2.00) and save percentage (.935).
“Kris was a difference-maker from the day he arrived in New Jersey,” said Hitmen head coach Toby Harris. “He was a leader by example both on and off the ice. His compete level and ability to make momentum-changing saves was something that our team really fed off. UAA is getting an excellent goaltender and even better teammate.”
Carlson indeed helped lead the Hitmen to the NCDC finals, where they forced a third game before ultimately falling to the Islanders Hockey Club. During his nine playoff games in net, Carlson posted a .926 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average.
“That’s why you play hockey, to play in that playoff experience,” added Carlson. “I’ve been on deep playoff runs before, but it helps you grow as a person as well as a hockey player.”
Carlson was able to utilize the services of the Hitmen coaching staff’s connections to the college world in order to make his commitment to UAA possible.
“A lot of it was through connections with Coach Toby Harris, as well as the college coaches who had watched me throughout the year,” Carlson said.
Carlson finished a three-year junior career that stretched back to 2014.
“I have been around and had a lot of chances to play against good competition. The HItmen gave me a lot of chances to play in front of a lot of coaches on the East Coast,” Carlson added. “The exposure was very good, very impressive.”
The development opportunities through the Hitmen program helped mature his game to the point where he can move on and very likely make a difference with a rebuilding UAA program.
“More experience, more playing time against different competition that I wasn’t used to,” said Carlson, listing just some of the positives of playing in the USPHL’s tuition-free division in 2017-18. “It made me a calmer goalie. With experience comes poise, and that’s how I’ve improved.”
About the USPHL
Founded in 2012, the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) is comprised of more than 500 teams. Our teams are geographically diverse, ranging from Northeast to South to the Midwest.
Our Junior Divisions consists of the National Collegiate Development Conference, (NCDC) which is a unique, tuition-free, junior hockey division geared toward Division I collegiate development placement and beyond, as well as our developmental Premier and Elite Divisions.
Our Midget and Youth Divisions consist of 18U, 16U, 16U Futures, EHF Selects Split-Season Midget Divisions, and High Performance Youth Hockey League.
In 2018, the USPHL merged with the Eastern Hockey Federation to become the Nation's Largest Amateur Hockey Organization.