Eleven months ago, Brad Berry talked about a “dream come true” of being named the head coach at North Dakota, a school for which he played and served two stints as an assistant coach.
But there was a high bar set by his predecessor, Dave Hakstol, who took the program to seven Frozen Fours in 11 seasons but never reaching the ultimate goal of a national championship.
In the end, Berry did pretty well for himself in his debut season as a college head coach.
Berry became the first person to win the NCAA title in his first season as a head coach last Saturday, adding to a resume that also included the NCHC regular season championship.
Berry, USCHO’s coach of the year for 2015-16, didn’t want the attention focusing on him after the Fighting Hawks beat Quinnipiac 5-1 in Tampa, Fla., for the championship.
“First of all, I feel very uncomfortable talking about that because, again, it’s not about me,” Berry said. “I feel blessed and fortunate to be in this position. I’ve been here for 10 years, and now I’m the head coach. Nothing changes for me.
“I’m part of a special group and a special family here at North Dakota. And it’s about these young men here in the locker room that put it on the line every night in a game and come to work every single day to the Ralph Engelstad Arena.”
Berry led North Dakota to a 34-6-4 record and a second straight NCHC regular season championship after taking over from Hakstol, who became the head coach of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
Before moving up, Berry spent nine seasons as a North Dakota assistant under Dean Blais and Hakstol, first from 2000 through 2006 and then from 2012 to 2015. In between, he was an assistant with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
USCHO’s postseason awards were selected by USCHO staff members during the Frozen Four.
The All-USCHO teams were unveiled Wednesday; the rookie and coach of the year will be announced later this week.