Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

The Wings' Last Frontier

Alaska is well-represented by Wings' goalie tandem

Friday, 03.23.2012 / 3:36 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

The Wings\' Last Frontier
Ty Conklin made 32 saves in his return to the Red Wings Wednesday night in New York. He will start his second straight game Saturday against Carolina. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – It’s amazing to think that the 49th state in the Union has produced a vice-presidential nominee before two goalies from The Last Frontier were teammates on the same NHL team.

But that seems to be the case as veteran Ty Conklin and rookie Jordan Pearce, both Anchorage, Alaska natives, will man the Red Wings’ net as starter and backup for the second straight game when Detroit hosts the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“It’s pretty unique having two goalies from the same town, same state, especially Alaska because there’s not a lot of hockey players, but it’s pretty cool,” Pearce said. “They have a great youth hockey program and there’s not a lot of population, but a high-percentage of them either play hockey in the winters or ski or snowboard. You have to do something for the long winters.”

With injuries to No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard (strained groin) and backup Joey MacDonald (back pain), the Wings were forced to recall both goalies from Grand Rapids, making the unique scenario.

Conklin started Wednesday’s 2-1 loss against the New York Rangers. Meanwhile, Pearce, a University of Notre Dame graduate with plans to one day attend medical school, is still seeking his first NHL action after he backed up Conklin at Madison Square Garden.

Even though former GOP vice-presidential nominee and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin drew attention to the sport when she called herself an “average hockey mom”, very few Alaskans have reached the NHL ranks. Besides Conklin and Pearce, Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky, Montreal center Scott Gomez, Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle and Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson are the lone Alaskans in the league.

In 1997, the Red Wings drafted their one and only Alaskan native, when they selected forward B.J. Young in the sixth round. A career minor-league player, Young appeared in one game for the Red Wings in the 1999-2000 season. He scored 67 goals with 87 assists in 236 AHL games.

“When I was growing up the youth program wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, it has grown with at least a couple 2-3 more rinks in town,” said Conklin, who was six-weeks-old when his family moved from Phoenix to Anchorage in 1976.

Conklin grew-up near Eagle River in northern Anchorage, while Pearce was on the south side of town. But Alaska’s largest city – it constitutes more than 40 percent of the state’s total population – it’s a relatively small town, not tiny, but both players probably had similar experiences as young kids.

“We’re both true Alaskans,” Pearce said. “Ty’s got his pilot’s license and plane. I don’t have my license yet but we have a family plane so obviously we both come from families that really enjoy the outdoors with fishing and hunting and getting out and enjoying our beautiful state so we’ve had some good stories about fishing and hunting.”

With a 10-year difference in age, the Wings’ goalies did not know one another back home. However, Pearce did follow Conklin’s early career from the University of New Hampshire to his first NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.

“He’s a lot older than me, obviously, he’s almost as old as my brothers so growing I knew a little something about him when he was playing for UNH, and watching him play in a couple of Frozen Fours and then early in his NHL career, so I’ve watched him. But I never ran across him growing up back home.”

The two Alaskans met three years ago during Conklin’s first stint with the Wings when Pearce was first signed with the club following his senior season with the Fighting Irish.

“We chatted back then,” Conklin said. “I know that he likes hunting and fishing, something that I like to do, a lot of guys like that growing up. I know he likes the outdoors and there are only so many hobbies up in Alaska, either you like the outdoors, but once you start playing hockey there’s another chunk of time.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




1 MTL 25 18 4 3 87 55 39
2 WSH 23 17 5 1 74 51 35
3 NYR 24 16 6 2 69 49 34
4 OTT 23 12 6 5 73 65 29
5 PIT 23 13 8 2 51 53 28
6 NYI 24 12 8 4 67 57 28
7 BOS 22 13 8 1 72 64 27
8 DET 23 12 8 3 55 58 27
9 NJD 23 12 9 2 54 55 26
10 TBL 25 11 11 3 58 56 25
11 PHI 24 9 10 5 44 64 23
12 FLA 22 9 9 4 56 57 22
13 BUF 24 10 12 2 53 61 22
14 CAR 23 8 11 4 47 65 20
15 CBJ 25 10 15 0 60 76 20
16 TOR 23 7 11 5 51 62 19


H. Zetterberg 23 4 16 0 20
D. Larkin 23 9 8 13 17
T. Tatar 23 8 9 0 17
G. Nyquist 23 8 6 0 14
J. Abdelkader 23 5 7 -3 12
T. Pulkkinen 22 6 5 2 11
N. Kronwall 23 1 7 -7 8
M. Green 17 1 7 -5 8
R. Sheahan 23 3 3 -5 6
J. Kindl 17 2 3 3 5
P. Mrazek 6 4 2 .931 2.21
J. Howard 6 4 1 .914 2.40 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map