Alaska-Anchorage junior goaltender Bryce Christianson has given up his final year of eligibility to sign with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. Christianson was signed as an emergency back-up goaltender, which seems like an odd coincidence given that he came to Anchorage mid-season in 2007-2008 as an emergency replacement for Matthew Gordon, who suffered a career-ending eye injury that helped bring about the rule in college hockey that goalies on the bench must wear helmets.
With senior goalie Jon Olthuis graduating, Christianson would have appeared to be the front-runner for the starting gig in Anchorage next season. The only other returning goalie is third-string walk-on Dusan Sidor, whose only collegiate experience is 40 minutes of mop-up duty in one game last season.(It's never a good sign when you're talking about 2/3s of a game being mop-up duty, but such is life in Anchorage) The Seawolves have incoming freshman Rob Gunderson lined up to come in next, and they'll likely pick someone else up to compete with him for the starting job.
Despite being in line for some fairly regular ice time, it's not a huge surprise to see Christianson look for somewhere else to go. He got 9 starts in the first half of the season, but spent much of the second half of the year in the doghouse while Jon Olthuis received 12 straight starts in the second half of the year, and 16 out of 18 starts. Christianson didn't even travel with the team for 3 out of the 4 WCHA road series in the second half of the season. When he did get back into action late in the year, he helped justify his coach's lack of faith with two awful 7-goal performances against Alaska and Wisconsin.
His departure leaves Anchorage with a big unknown in goal, but a fresh start was maybe the best decision for both parties.