GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Two head coaches from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) have been named finalists for the 2019-20 Spencer Penrose Award, presented annually to the CCM/AHCA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Coach of the Year. North Dakota coach Brad Berry and Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin are among the nine finalists for the Coach of the Year award, the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) announced Tuesday.
The NCHC and WCHA are the only conferences with two finalists for the award. This marks the fourth straight season Sandelin has been a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, having previously won it in 2004. Berry was a finalist for the award in 2016 after his first season at the helm, but a North Dakota coach hasn’t won the award since Dean Blais in 2001.
Already the NCHC’s Herb Brooks Coach of the Year this season, Berry was also named Coach of the Year by USCHO.com and College Hockey News for 2019-20. In his fifth season as bench boss, Berry guided North Dakota to a 26-5-4 record overall in the regular season before the postseason was cut short, an eight-win improvement from last season. In NCHC play, Berry led his alma mater to the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions, going 17-4-3-2, after being picked to finish fourth in the NCHC Preseason Media Poll. North Dakota made a four-spot improvement this season after placing fifth in the NCHC in 2018-19. Nationally, Berry guided the Fighting Hawks to finish first in the Pairwise Rankings and would have been the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, were it held. UND was also ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Poll seven weeks during the season, after starting at No. 18 in the preseason, and finished the season ranked second in the poll.
Sandelin was the runner-up for NCHC Coach of the Year, leading the Bulldogs to a 22-10-2 record overall on the season and a second-place finish in the NCHC. UMD, the preseason favorite in the NCHC, finished three points back of North Dakota with a 17-5-2-0 record in conference play. Nationally, Sandelin helped Minnesota Duluth finish fourth in the Pairwise Rankings as UMD would have earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs ended their bid for a NCAA national championship three-peat ranked fifth nationally in both the final USCHO.com Poll and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll.
The nominees for the Spencer Penrose Award represent any coach who won or shared Coach of the Year honors in his conference this past season, coaches whose teams are ranked in the Top Four of the final Pairwise Rankings, and also include a recommended nomination from the Big Ten conference (Bob Motzko of Minnesota). In addition, the AHCA Awards Committee has nominated Greg Powers of Arizona State, coach of the sole NCAA Division I independent program, on the basis of an NCAA Tournament qualifying position in the Pairwise Rankings.
Selected by the nation's 60 NCAA Division I head coaches, the winner will be announced next Tuesday, April 7.
The lone NCHC coach to win the Spencer Penrose Award in the conference’s seven-year history so far is former Denver coach Jim Montgomery in 2017, after leading DU to the national championship. Sandelin’s Penrose Award came when UMD was still a member of the WCHA.
The Spencer Penrose Award is named in memory of the Colorado Springs benefactor who built the Broadmoor Hotel Complex, site of the first 10 NCAA championship hockey tournaments. The NCHC’s regular-season championship trophy is also named after Spencer Penrose and his wife, Julie, given the NCHC headquarters are located in Colorado Springs on the grounds of the Penrose House.
The CCM AHCA Coach of the Year Awards are sponsored by CCM Hockey and chosen by members of the AHCA.
2019-20 CCM/AHCA Spencer Penrose Award Finalists:
Brad Berry, North Dakota
Red Gendron, Maine
*Mike Hastings, Minnesota State
Eric Lang, AIC
Bob Motzko, Minnesota
Greg Powers, Arizona State
*Scott Sandelin, Minnesota Duluth
Mike Schafer, Cornell
Tom Serratore, Bemidji State
* Past Spencer Penrose Award Winner