A year ago, Nate Leaman watched as a program he helped build won its first national championship, three years after he left.
It did not take him long to match Union’s 2014 triumph with his new team.
Leaman guided Providence to the 2015 national championship, continuing a program resurgence under the fourth-year head coach.
In a crowded field of deserving candidates, Leaman’s NCAA tournament success helped him earn USCHO’s coach of the year award.
Leaman’s Friars had only the nation’s sixth-best record (26-13-2). They had just one player in the national top 50 for points.
In the end, however, they were the last team standing after getting the last at-large spot in the NCAA tournament.
Leaman, 42, did not take a conventional road to major college hockey coaching, but his recent success has put him among the best young coaches in the country.
He won the Spencer Penrose Award as the top Division I men’s coach at Union in 2011, when he led the Dutchmen to their first Division I NCAA tournament appearance.
Leaman left Schenectady, N.Y., after that season to join Providence, and after two seasons of building, he has taken the Friars to the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.
This season, Providence lost consecutive games only once, and although the Friars were bounced from the Hockey East playoffs in the quarterfinals, they rebounded in the national tournament.
USCHO’s postseason awards were selected by USCHO staff members during the Frozen Four.
Here are recent USCHO selections for coach of the year:
• 2015: Nate Leaman, Providence
• 2014: Rick Bennett, Union
• 2013: Norm Bazin, UMass-Lowell
• 2012: Norm Bazin, UMass-Lowell
• 2011: Jeff Blashill, Western Michigan
• 2010: Jerry York, Boston College