Notre Dame signee Strand honors Alaska every time he takes ice
No matter how far hockey takes Anchorage’s Hunter Strand he never strays from his rink roots.
His background drives him and defines him.
“I don’t know if I’d be the person and player I am today if I didn’t grow up in Alaska,” he said. “Everyone is so dedicated to helping you get better. All my coaches and friends growing up formed me into the player I am today.”
They created a monster – a skilled two-way forward who is bound for the Big Ten after signing with the University of Notre Dame.
Strand, of South High fame, spent two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program before being drafted No. 2 overall in the United States Hockey League by the Tri-City Storm.
The 18-year-old will join the Fighting Irish next season, adding his name to the list of Alaska skaters to lace ‘em up at the NCAA D1 level.
“To play D1 hockey means everything,” he said. “It has always been a dream of mine and I can’t wait.”
Notre Dame is nationally ranked this season and has reached the Frozen Four three times since 2011, including a national runner-up finish in 2018.
“Notre Dame is such an honorable school,” Strand said. “They are so prestigious and they also have an amazing hockey team and staff. Everyone that works there is there to help you get better not only as a player but as a person.”
Strand also considered signing with Denver and Providence before a recruiting trip to Notre Dame sealed the deal.
“Everything about the campus made me fall in love with it,” he said. “Notre Dame just attracted me so much. It was above all the best school for me.”
Strand plans to major in business, following in the footsteps of his father in more ways than one. His dad, Michael, played in the North American Hockey League in 1992 and 1993.
Hockey has always been a big part of his life.
“I love it,” Strand said. “I grew up with it around me. When I am having problems off the ice all I have to do is lace up the skates and all my problems are forgotten. I am free when I’m on the ice.”
Strand racked up 18-11-29 scoring totals in 103 games with the National Team Development Program’s 17-U and 18-U squads before joining Tri-City.
Earlier this month he was the first skater of the USHL season to win forward-of-the-week honors after posting six points in five games.
Whatever sweater he wears on the ice, Strand at his core will always represent The Last Frontier.
“It means so much to represent Alaska,” he said. “Anchorage will always be home. I grew up there and all my family is there. I may not live there, but my heart will always be there.”