Dean Blais, Ben Smith and John Marchetti Headline 2020 AHCA Award Winners
The American Hockey Coaches Association has announced its major award winners for the 2019-20 season. Most of the honorees will receive their awards during the 2020 AHCA Convention in Naples, FL, where men's and women's hockey are celebrated at separate dinner on Wednesday, April 22 and Friday, April 24, respectively. (Click here for lists of previous AHCA Award Winners.)
THE JOHN MACINNES AWARD: Established by the AHCA in 1982 to honor former Michigan Tech coach, John MacInnes, this award recognizes those people who have shown a great concern for amateur hockey and youth programs. The recipients have had high winning percentages, as well as outstanding graduating percentages among their former players. The winners of this award have helped young men grow not only as hockey players, but more importantly, as men.
2020 Recipient: Dean Blais, Minnesota, North Dakota, Omaha
Dean Blais enjoyed a uniquely successful hockey career as both a player and a coach, spanning five decades. A native of International Falls, Minnesota, Blais entered the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1969 and played two varsity seasons for Glen Sonmor and one for Herb Brooks. The 1971 Gophers were NCAA runners-up, falling to Boston University in the final in Syracuse. Blais was named to that year's All Tournament Team.
In his senior year, Blais represented the United States in the 1973 World Championships, starting a long relationship with USA Hockey. Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fifth round (68th overall), Blais spent three seasons in the Chicago organization before starting his coaching career as an assistant at Minnesota for the 1976-77 season.
His first head coaching position came with Minot (ND) High School, from 1977-1980. He returned to college hockey as an assistant to Gino Gasparini at North Dakota, helping the Sioux to two NCAA championships during his 1980-89 tenure. After five seasons back at the high school level (Roseau and International Falls High Schools), he returned to Grand Forks as head coach of North Dakota and enjoyed a record of 262-115-33 in 10 seasons, winning NCAA championships in 1997 and 2000. In his decade at North Dakota, his teams finished first in the WCHA on five occasions.
Blais again left college hockey, this time for three seasons in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization (2004-2007), followed by two years with the Fargo Force of the USHL. College hockey lured him back when he took over the program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, winning 146 games over the next eight seasons and bringing Omaha to the Frozen Four in 2015. In all, his college head coaching record was 408-248-63.
He also led Team USA to the gold medal in the 2010 World Junior Championship and he remained active with USA Hockey in a variety of roles over the years. The MacInnes Award is not the first honor bestowed on Blais by the AHCA. He earned the Spencer Penrose Award as the nation's top Division I men's coach in both 1997 and 2001.
THE JOHN "SNOOKS" KELLEY FOUNDERS AWARD: Named after the famed Boston College coach, this award honors those people in the coaching profession who have contributed to the overall growth and development of the sport of ice hockey in the United States.
2020 Recipient: Ben Smith, BU, Yale, Dartmouth, Northeastern and USA Hockey
Ben Smith was the head coach of three U.S. Olympic Women's Hockey Teams, including the 1998 squad that captured the first-ever gold medal awarded in women's hockey. He also coached five Women's World Championships, leading the U.S to win its first-ever gold medal in 2005. On the men's side internationally, Smith has been on staff for three World Junior Championships, two Men's World Championships, the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Smith played hockey at Harvard ('68) for Hall of Famer, Cooney Weiland before entering the coaching ranks. His first job was at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, followed by a one-year stint at his hometown high school in Gloucester, MA. Smith moved on to Yale, serving for five years with fellow Harvard alum Tim Taylor. After Yale won its first-ever Ivy League Championship in 1981, Smith took a position with Jack Parker at Boston University, where he assisted for nine years. He became head coach at Dartmouth in 1990, and head coach at Northeastern in 1991, serving until 1996.
USA Hockey hired Smith in 1996 to coach the Women's National and Olympic program, which he did for over a decade. In 2008, Smith transitioned to the men's side. His current assignment for USA Hockey is with the Boys U-20 National Team which plays in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships on an annual basis. Smith was formally inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2016 and the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.
THE JIM FULLERTON AWARD: Named in honor of the former Brown University hockey coach and AHCA spiritual leader, this award recognizes an individual who loves the purity of our sport. Whether a coach, administrator, trainer, official, journalist or simply a fan, the recipient exemplifies Jim Fullerton, who gave as much as he received and never stopped caring about the direction in which our game was heading.
2020 Recipient: Trent Trahan, Plattsburgh Prime Link Shootout
Trent Trahan is the president and CEO of The Champlain Telephone Company and PrimeLink. His leadership and vision has developed the management of the phone company and its subsidiaries during a time of revolutionary change in the telecommunication industry. Under Trahan's direction, PrimeLink established the Prime Link Great Northern Shoot Out, an annual Thanksgiving weekend two-day round-robin Division III hockey tournament. The event features four of the region's competitive Division III hockey programs; Norwich University, Middlebury College, Plattsburgh State University and a Division III guest from throughout the country.
Mr. Trahan has been a Plattsburgh State Hockey fan for 27 years. At one point, he was a collegiate basketball player who, upon graduation, moved to Minnesota to work and fell in love with college hockey. Upon moving back to the Plattsburgh Area in late 80's to take over the family business, he became a Plattsburgh State Hockey Fan. He immediately became a supporter of the program donating his time and money to the growth of the hockey program at the college.
It was his love of college hockey that led Trent in 1998, to develop a plan to build and grow Division III college hockey even further than it had at that time. In the two decades of the tournament, Primelink has been a positive experience for over 2000 NCAA Division III hockey players, both East and West. His promotion of the tournament has led to a much greater awareness of the Division III game throughout the college hockey world.
A native of Chazy, NY, Trahan attended Plattsburgh State University. He serves as Chairperson for Clinton County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA). He is a member of the Plattsburgh State College Foundation Investment Committee. He is past Chairman of the Plattsburgh State College Foundation. He is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa, The National Leadership Honor Society. He has 30 years of experience in the telephony industry.
TERRY FLANAGAN AWARD: Named in honor of the former UNH player and Bowling Green Assistant, this award honors an assistant coach's career body of work.
2020 Recipient: Keith Fisher, SCSC, Princeton and Penn State
With a distinguished 22-season coaching background, Keith Fisher's recruiting and coaching acumen has been vital to the recent rise of Penn State hockey, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths in 2017 and 2018.
In 2018-19, Fisher helped guide Penn State to its second Big Ten Championship game in the past three seasons as the Nittany Lions posted their second most victories in a season finishing 22-15-2. In 2017-18, Penn State reached the Big Ten semifinals for the fourth time in the brief five-year history of the conference. Fisher also helped guide Penn State to back-to-back 20-win campaigns in 2015-16 & 2016-17 and the programs first-ever Big Ten Tournament Championship in 2017.
Prior to coming to Penn State, Fisher spent the previous six seasons on the staff at Princeton from 2005-2011. With the Tigers, he helped lead the team to a pair of NCAA tournament berths (2008, 2009) and the 2008 ECAC and Ivy League Championships. The 2009 Princeton Tigers also set the school-record for wins in a season with 22, a record which still stands to this day.
The Minnesota native headed up the Princeton recruiting efforts which saw three All-Americans, two Hobey Baker Award Finalists, two ECAC Player of the Year recipients (the only two in the history of the program), one ECAC Rookie of the Year, one ECAC Defenseman of the Year and one ECAC Goaltender of the year.
Fisher spent five years with the USHL's Omaha Lancers' coaching staff, helping the team to the Clark Cup championship in 2001 and Anderson Cup regular-season championships in both 2002 and 2005. A graduate of St. Cloud State University, Fisher got his coaching start with two seasons with the Huskies' hockey program as an undergraduate assistant coach. During his time with the SCSU, Fisher helped develop five players for the NHL and in 2000 they advanced to just the second NCAA tournament in program history.
THE JOHN MARIUCCI AWARD: John Mariucci, the former coach of the University of Minnesota, was not only an outstanding college coach, but also a driving force behind the growth of hockey in the United States. In 1987, the AHCA created this award to honor a secondary school association coach who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and enthusiasm of the "GODFATHER OF U.S. HOCKEY," John Mariucci.
2020 Recipient: Andy Weidenbach, Cranbrook Kingswood School.
Andy Weidenbach enjoyed a successful 26-year career as head coach at the Cranbrook-Kingswood School in Michigan, forging a career mark of 504-187-47 (.715). In that time, Weidenbach led Cranbrook to 10 state championships before retiring in March of 2019.
As successful as he was in winning games, Weidenbach was also a leader off the ice, helping create and serve the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League for 20 years. As the only president the group has known, Weidenbach took the lead in growing high school hockey and educating coaches in Michigan. He quickly earned a reputation as one who was in the game to help others as well as succeed with his own program. Among his accomplishments were creating the first pre-season high school league in the state as well as the first girls high school league.
Said rival coach Todd Johnson of Catholic Central, "Guys like Andy help each other out. When they are in competition, they want to beat each other. But outside the competition, it is like, 'What can we do to help each other become better?'"
Weidenbach's coaching career spanned 41 years, starting at the bantam level, moving through the OHL and then the high school career. Prior to Cranbrook, Weidenbach coached in the OHL and the NAHL. With Detroit Compuware, he went 190-37-18 andearned NAJHL Coach of the Year honors. He also served as a skills coach for the Detroit Red Wings Player Development Rookie Camp from 2008-2012. Weidenbach also served as Arena Manager in both his Cranbrook and Compuware stops. He has also owned an operated a dynamic skating school for many years.
Added Coach Johnson, "Andy coached his teams the right way. He was always willing to listen to other parties involved in the game. That was huge with his reputation in working with the Michigan High School Athletic Association and getting changes made, changes that improved high school hockey for everyone."
THE WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY FOUNDERS AWARD This award honors a member of the hockey community or college coaching profession who has contributed to the overall growth and development of the sport of women's ice hockey in the United States through their enthusiasm, passion and selflessness.
2020 Recipient: John Marchetti, Providence, Yale, Mercyhurst
John Marchetti was a pioneer in women's ice hockey, bridging the sport's early developmental years with the emergence of women's hockey as an Olympic sport in the late 1990's. Starting at Providence College in 1980 and moving on to a brief stint at Yale, ending in 2002, Marchetti won 292 games and still ranks 19th overall in wins some 20 years after his retirement. Inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame in 2008, Marchetti held the best winning percentage (.779) of any sport in the history of the college at the time of his retirement. His career record was 292-173-26. He also spent some time as an assistant coach at both UConn and Mercyhurst.
His legacy was not confined to the exemplary win-loss record but also in the players he groomed to go on to extraordinary success at the international level. Among the Olympians that John coached at PC were Cammi Granato, Chris Bailey, Lisa Brown Miller and Alana Blahoski. He also coached some of the greats of the pre-Olympic, most notably Cindy Curley. Three of his former players went on to become successful head coaches in their own right: Jackie Gladu Barto (PC and OSU), Heather Linstad (NU and UConn), and Karen Kay (UNH and Team USA.)
Marchetti was also among a small group of coaches who were instrumental in professionalizing women's intercollegiate ice hockey in the years before formal league play and post-season tournaments were the norm within the NCAA.
Following his successful hockey coaching career, the former PC hockey player became a successful golf coach at the college level, coaching at Mercyhurst and Ave Maria (FL).
ASSISTANT WOMEN'S COACH AWARD Established in 2011, this award honors an assistant coach's career body of work.
2020 Recipient: Mare MacDougall Bari, St. Lawrence University
Mare MacDougall Bari entered her thirteenth season as an assistant coach with the St. Lawrence women's hockey team in 2019-20. The Saints' strength and conditioning and video coordinator, MacDougall Bari also assists with the recruitment of student-athletes works closely with the team's defensemen and penalty killing unit. In 12 seasons at St. Lawrence, Mare has helped lead the Saints to four NCAA Tournament appearances, seven ECAC Hockey semifinal appearances including the 2012 ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship, and a 226-155-51 record. MacDougall Bari has coached three Patty Kazmaier Award finalists, three All Americans and 16 members of the Paul Flanagan '80, P'13 Century Club since coming to Appleton Arena. Additionally, in 2012, she was honored as part of the ECAC Hockey Coaching Staff of the Year.
In addition to her duties with the hockey program, Mare has immersed herself in the St. Lawrence campus community as a professor within the Sports Studies and Exercise Science minor, an academic advisor, and as a member of several campus- wide committees, including working on the 2018 Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation review.
Prior to coming to St. Lawrence, MacDougall Bari served as an assistant coach for four seasons at Wayne State University. The Lumsden, Saskatchewan native graduated cum laude from Mercyhurst College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. As a defenseman, she helped the Lakers capture back-to-back league championships in her two seasons at Mercyhurst, and earned CHA All-Academic honors her both her junior and senior year. She was very involved in the Erie community, as she worked as a volunteer at an after-school program for at-risk children.
MacDougall Bari lives in Canton, N.Y., and is married to Franco Bari, the Athletic Director at the College of St. Scholastica.
Bari previously served as the St. Lawrence women's soccer coach and assistant athletic director.
THE JOE BURKE AWARD: Presented annually to the person who has given outstanding contribution, support, and dedication to women's ice hockey." It is named in honor of a girls' and women's hockey "superfan," Joe Burke.
2020 Recipient: Kathy McGarrigle, Anaheim Lady Ducks
Kathy McGarrigle has served as Founder, Program Director and Head Coach for the Anaheim Lady Ducks since its humble beginnings in 1999. Now in her 23rd year of coaching ice hockey and 30th year teaching in the public schools, she focuses her efforts on the growth of the Lady Ducks program, from 6 & under thru 12u. These efforts have seen the Lady Ducks program win several medals at USA Hockey Nationals and place a number of young women from California into NCAA programs.
Kathy has overseen the Lady Ducks grow from 4 teams in 2007 to 14-15 teams expected for 2019. In addition to the girls' program, Kathy has competed and earned 8 medals (2G, 2S, 4B) at the USA Hockey Women's National Championships. Kathy's dedication to see female sports succeed comes from her early experiences with sports, chasing her after brother and included some exclusion from participation in the early 1970s.
Following Title IX passage, opportunities for girls to play and high school sports grew rapidly. A four-letter athlete, earning CIF honors as well as an academic National Merit Scholar, Kathy took on the opportunity play Division I Tennis and attend college at USC. She competed for multiple years in the Pac-10 and NCAA Tennis championships as a student-athlete and earned a Sports Journalism degree from USC in 1989. She obtained her California Teaching Credential and later a Masters in Kinesiology & Sport History in 1998 from Cal Poly.
Coaching young tennis players in the 1990s, Kathy took her experiences as an athlete, strong student, instructor and teacher to develop the Lady Ducks program into the nationally-recognized program that it is today. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys travel, especially to historically notable destinations and working on literacy with disadvantaged children. In 1997 she taped the '98 Olympic NIKE commercial with Cammi Granato, "Just Do It!"