ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Hang around any hockey rink in Anchorage or Eagle River, and you’ll find people wearing Alaska Kream Hockey League and Eagle River Hockey League gear. Since 2017 the new adult leagues – affectionately known as Beer Leagues have seen a rise in popularity.
Leading the charge in 2017 was Reid McDonald, who started the Eagle River Hockey League, marketing it as Alaska’s Premier Beer League.
"(I was) sick of the shenanigans of the old beer league guard," said McDonald, president of the ERHL.
McDonald said it was initially a push back on other beer leagues -- holding press conferences on Facebook Live, a draft before the season started, hats, and catchy t-shirts.
“It's something that has been talked about in Eagle River for many years,” said McDonald. “A beer league the way we wanted to do it.”
He says the plan was initially to have a small upper-level league, but that quickly changed after they started.
"People started coming out of the woodwork saying what about me?” said McDonald.
The league now has three levels with 210 players, but as it turns out, the need for a league wasn’t only in Eagle River. Soon Jeff Cable and Sam Cehula started the Alaska Kream Hockey League.
"What really pushed us is the late games we'd get stuck with,” said Cable. “For the money we were paying we thought we could do something funner."
All four teams in the league are a take on Cream like Cookies and Cream or Cream Cheese.
"Cream rises to the top, Cream of the crop,” said Cable describing the idea behind the league. "This is definitely the best league south of Wasilla."
Like any great rivalry, the AKHL has close ties to the ERHL-- founding member Cehula plays in both leagues, and was able to navigate the paperwork of creating the non-profit league with the help of McDonald.
While neither league is shy to call themselves the best, both seem to have found a winning formula creating competitive leagues people want to play in.
It hasn’t been confirmed, but a charity holiday game is in the works between both leagues. This November ERHL has been raising money for Movember which addresses some of the biggest issues facing men’s health.