By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., May 19, 2022 — The Great Falls Americans of the North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) are pleased to announce that goaltender Will Simpson will continue his education and hockey career at a ACHA Division I school in West Virginia for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
Simpson of Anchorage, Alaska, will join the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers men’s hockey squad in the fall of 2022. WVU is located in Morgantown, West Virginia, roughly 70 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has an enrollment of around 27,000, is a public lands grant university that has produced many scholars and has around 166 degree programs. The collegiate hockey program, an American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I member, has been under the direction of head coach Shane Buckley since the 2019-20 season. The Mountaineers compete in the College Hockey Mid-America (CHMA) Conference.
Will finished his first and only season with the Great Falls Americans during the 2021-22 campaign. The 5’10”, 160 lbs. netminder played in 24 games (13-9-0-2) including three postseason contests where he went 2-1. The Alaskan goaltender produced 765 saves with 637 coming during the regular season. The new college signee was in the top twenty in the entire NA3HL with a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.73 and a save percentage of 0.922 after 21 contests before the postseason began. His lone shutout for Great Falls came in the first game of the 2021 NA3HL Showcase tournament in Minnesota where he swatted away all 27 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Texas-based Mid Cities Jr. Stars (see game story/stats).
Simpson was recognized four times for his effort in the net for the Americans. He earned Frontier Division Honorable Mention Star of the Week honors twice (weeks ending January 16th and 31st) and in January 2022 and February 2022, he was an Honorable Mention NA3HL Stars of the Month recipient.
Prior to his arrival in Montana, he played in his home state (Alaska) from 2014-2020 with four seasons at West Anchorage High School and a pair of teams (Alaska Oilers/Alaska Wolves) in the 16U AA and 18U AA. During the 2020-21 season, the college freshman suited up for the Anaheim Avalanche of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) in the Premier Division.
He really enjoyed having a bond with his teammates in Great Falls that eventually led to great chemistry and success on the ice.
His time playing at the Junior A level helped keep his body in shape because of the daily practices and weekly games that did not happen as often in his youth days where they didn’t have as many practices weekly.
“I really enjoyed the coaching staff because we had two former Great Falls Americans players (goaltender coach Trever Mellen and Associate Coach Matt Maniglia) mentoring us and helping connect and bond the coaches and players,” said Simpson.
Simpson looks forward to playing at the next level in college because its nice to play for a school and represent them. The Alaskan netminder plans on majoring in International Studies with a minor in Japanese while attending West Virginia University.
He was excited to play for the Americans this season and wanted to thank his host family, Mike and Jenn Fines, who made his stay enjoyable.
“We are very excited for Will to get an opportunity to continue his education and hockey career at West Virginia,” said Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager, Greg Sears. “Will competes hard and plays with confidence. He is very deserving of this opportunity.”
Simpson is not the only American who played this season that committed to a college of his choice. Forward Hunter Maschke signed with Hope College in Michigan (ACHA DII) and forward Carter Schuller, who signed with the Grizzlies at the University of Montana (ACHA DII).
Click here to view Will Simpson’s statistics for the 2021-22 season.
Click here for a full listing of the NA3HL college commitments.
Additional Media Coverage: May 27, 2022: North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL): Great Falls goalie Simpson makes college commitment