The American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) has announced its list of eight finalists for the 1996-97 Spencer Penrose Memorial Award, given to the Division I Coach of the Year.
None of the eight finalists, who include representatives of all four major conferences, have ever received the award before. The finalists range from veterans to first-year coaches.
The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:
In his 14th year, Ron Anderson guided his Merrimack team to a 15-19-2 record and fifth place in Hockey East, the highest finish in school history. The Warriors also gained home ice in the Hockey East playoffs for the first time.
Michigan’s Red Berenson is the coach of the defending national champions and is in his 13th season. Michigan won the CCHA regular season and tournament championships and has a record of 34-3-4 heading into the NCAA semifinals.
Dean Blais led North Dakota into the NCAA semifinals in just his third year at the helm. The Sioux, 29-10-2 after the NCAA Regionals, were co-winners of the MacNaughton Cup, given to the WCHA regular-season champions, and won the WCHA tournament title as well.
Princeton finished with a record of 18-12-4 under sixth-year head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon. The Tigers landed in sixth place in the ECAC standings, three spots higher than predicted in preseason polls, and upset Vermont on the way to a fourth-place finish in the ECAC tourney.
In just his third year at Miami, Mark Mazzoleni directed the Redskins to second place in the CCHA with a record of 27-12-1. Miami was picked to finish seventh by the CCHA coaches after finishing the 1995-96 season with a record of 10-22-4.
Rookie coach Stan Moore led Union to a school-best record of 18-13-3 and fifth place in the ECAC, the highest finish ever for the Dutchmen, who were picked to finish 11th and miss the ECAC playoffs.
Dick Umile’s New Hampshire Wildcats earned a share of the Hockey East regular-season crown and a second-place finish in the league tournament. The seventh-year coach led UNH to a record of 28-11-0, the school’s most wins ever.
Another rookie coach, UMass-Lowell’s Tim Whitehead, established himself in his first year by proving the pundits wrong. The River Hawks, picked to finish ninth, wound up sixth and finished third in the Hockey East tournament. The ‘Hawks finished 15-21-2 overall.
The Spencer Penrose Award is named for the benefactor who built the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, site of the first ten NCAA Division I Ice Hockey Championships.
The award will be presented, along with the Eddie Jeremiah College Division Coach of the Year Award, at the AHCA Awards Banquet in Naples, Florida, on April 27. The timing of the selection has been changed: for the first time ever, coaches will cast their votes at the conclusion of the NCAA tournament.