Kupka signs with Alaska Fairbanks
Camrose Kodiaks forward and rookie of the year Kyler Kupka has signed with Alaska Fairbanks for the 2019-20 season.
Camrose native Kyler Kupka has his hockey future figured out.
The Camrose Kodiaks forward accepted a scholarship from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks last week, and he will attend following the 2018-19 Alberta Junior Hockey League season.
The Kodiaks reigning rookie of the year fell in love with the school while on a visitation this spring.
“I really enjoy it up there, the campus is a nice little, small environment, and I really like that being from Camrose,” he said. “They’ve got a good hockey program up there.”
Kupka scored 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 31 games last season with the Kodiaks before rupturing his spleen and missing the rest of the season. He was also invited to the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects game — a showcase for draft eligible junior A players — prior to his injury. His efforts led him to being a finalist for the AJHL rookie of the year award.
The Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks are part of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and have produced more than 100 professional hockey players over the years, most recently St. Louis Blues star defenceman Colton Parayko, another AJHL graduate from the Grande Prairie Storm.
“All you can do is work hard and hopefully get an opportunity where ever you go,” said Kupka, who is not sure what he will be studying yet.
Kodiaks head coach and general manager Boris Rybalka says Kupka projects to be an impact player at the college level and should have pro opportunities when he is done in Alaska. Settling on a school so early will allow him to focus solely on hockey for the remainder of his final two seasons in Camrose.
“He’s very well deserving of it, I think this is only the start of it … he’s got a bright future ahead of him,” said Rybalka. “Now he can just go play … he’s 18, he’s set for schooling.”