Interior Alaska had a decent cold snap drop in for the Winter Solstice and Christmas holiday. From December 17-28, Fairbanks did not see temperatures climb above zero. By Alaska standards, the period was neither long nor extreme, but we did make some ice, as they say. For comparison sake: The 11 day streak of below zero is tied for 42nd longest in the past 50 years. *
The Koyukuk & Yukon River Valleys saw the largest drops, as Allakaket and Manley Hot Springs fell to -60F and -65F respectively. The Manley temp was the coldest officially recorded in Alaska since Fort Yukon dipped to -66F in 2012.
Fairbanks officially reached -40F for the first time this season on Dec 27. That was the only day it dropped down to -40 at the cabin, as well. We had not seen -40F in Fairbanks since January 12, 2019, which is quite the stretch for us.
On December 28, the Deadhorse airport combined -38F temperatures with a 21 mph breeze, to offer a -73 degree windchill to residents of Prudhoe Bay.
No record lows were set during the 11 day period. The record low statewide for the month of December is -72F, which happened in Chicken, Alaska on New Year’s Eve of 1999.
In spite of the cold snap, there is little doubt that 2019 will be the warmest on record for Alaska. Currently, the temp outside the cabin remains above zero, some birch logs are smoldering in the wood stove, and a window is open, as I type this out, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.
This Beechcraft Model 18 aircraft was manufactured in 1943, and used as a military trainer during the latter years of WWII. After the war, it was bought by Air North for both cargo and passenger transport in Interior Alaska. The aircraft is now on display outside the Pioneer Air Museum in Fairbanks.
The USS Croaker, a Gato class submarine was launched on this date in 1943. The Croaker received three battle stars for its service during WWII. One of three ships I toured while in Buffalo, New York at the military park at Canalside.
Claimed by South Saint Paul; adopted by the entire State of Hockey.
Credit: Golden Gopher Hockey
Doug Woog, the former coach of the University of Minnesota Gopher hockey team, passed away this past Saturday. Woog was 75.
Wooger was the Gopher coach for 14 years, leading the team to 12 consecutive national tournament appearances. He led the Gophers to the Frozen Four finals in his first four seasons behind the bench, and to six Frozen Fours in all.
At the time of Wooger’s retirement, he led the team in victories as a coach. Don Lucia has since passed him in wins. Woog still out paces Lucia in win percentage. His win percentage at Minnesota is also higher than two legends of the game: John Mariucci and Herb Brooks.
When Woog was coaching the Gophers, it was common knowledge in Minnesota, that if you wanted to complain about the Gopher power play, you didn’t have to go through the University switchboard. All you had to do was open the Saint Paul phone book: The Woogs were always listed.
After his coaching career, Woog made an incredibly easy transition into broadcasting Gopher hockey games. He was a natural, and another generation of fans came to know the Wooger.
Doug Woog receives a kiss from his goaltender after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Minneapolis Patrick Henry in the 1959 state tournament. Photo: Minnesota Hockey Hub
Doug Woog made the South Saint Paul high school hockey team as a 5’6″, 140 pound freshman. Woog and the Packers went to four state tournaments in hockey. Woog was All-State for three years, was named to the State’s All-Tournament team for three years, and led the tournament in scoring in 1962.
For good measure, Woog was also All-State in football as a tailback.
Doug Woog as a Gopher; Photo credit: Golden Gopher Hockey
Woog would go on to play for the University of Minnesota, under the God Father of Minnesota hockey, John Mariucci. He won three letters, since freshman were not allowed to play in this era. In 80 career games, Woog tallied 101 points. As a junior, he led the team in scoring, and was named First Team All-America. As a senior, Woog was named Gopher captain, and the team’s MVP.
Wooger showing concern over Referee Shepherd’s eyesight
With all of the high accolades that Woog received as both a hockey player and coach, I think he was really a teacher at heart.
When I was a student at the University of Minnesota, Doug Woog was the hockey coach. I spent many Friday & Saturday winter nights at the Old Mariucci Arena. Campus was a lot different back then. There was no “athlete village”, and running into players and coaches was a common occurrence. Since I played some rec sports during my time at the “U”, I was often around the sports facilities and I only remember two coaches that gave the time of day to the average student. One was the still current baseball coach, John Anderson, and the other was Woog. A quick comment to Woog of “Nice win on Saturday, Coach”, would more often than not get a response about how the transition game wasn’t quite what he was looking for, or the power play left some goals on the ice.
Once, while at Williams Arena, I literally ran into Coach Woog. I was probably picking up student tickets to the weekend series, and was bundled up to race across campus for a class I shouldn’t be late for. I bumped into Woog on my way to the door, and he joked about my being in a hurry, then he asked if I was going to the game on Friday. I said I was, then I said that the Gophers would have a tough time with So-And-So in goal for the opposing team. Woog then spent the next ten minutes telling me exactly how and why So-And-So would be that tough. Then he spent ten minutes telling me about their defensive corps. If I hadn’t stopped him, I think Coach Woog would have given me the run down on their entire line up, as well. I was young and foolish back then, and I thought that the class was a priority, so I raced off, no doubt leaving Woog chuckling. I was quite late to class anyway, and the professor made sure everyone in the hall knew I was late. It’s only years later that I realize that the class was the least important thing I did that entire day.
My favorite Woog story comes, of course, from North Dakota, Minnesota’s main rival at the time. As a student, nothing was better than a bus ride to Grand Forks to see Minnesota play NoDak. There is just something about youth that longs to be surrounded by people who utterly hate your very existence. A trip to Madison was second best; hat tip towards Peewaukee. Back in the day, when NoDak played the Gophers, their fans would throw dead prairie dogs onto the ice when North Dakota scored their first goal. Woog’s Gophers had one mission: To keep those dead prairie dogs in the NoDak fans’ pockets for as long as possible. A shutout was an epic victory. Woog relished the idea of the stinky, dead rodents thawing out inside the NoDak jackets.
I became excited about college hockey as a very young kid, sitting in the stands at Old Mariucci with my Dad, watching Herb Brooks coach the Gophers to national prominence. That culminated with the 1980 Miracle on Ice. But there is no doubt that I learned the game of hockey watching the Doug Woog coached Gophers.
Woog was a class act through and through, and he will be missed at rinks all around Minnesota. His passion and dedication to the sport was infectious, and he passed that on to so many people, that he didn’t even know were watching.