Wisconsin-River Fall’s Joe Cranston Honored As 2023-24 CCM/AHCA Division III Women’s Coach of the Year

For leading his team to a phenomenal 29-0- record heading into the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Ice Hockey Championships, Joe Cranston of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls has been chosen by his peers as the 2024 CCM/AHCA Women’s Division III Coach of the Year. It is the first time that Cranston has been so honored and the first WIAC coach to win the award.

UWRF, the Frozen Four host, plays Adrian College at 7:00 pm CT on Friday evening. The schools played once during the regular season, a 7-5 UWRF win back on November 30. The 3:00 semifinal features Elmira and Middlebury.

Cranston was voted the WIAC Coach of the Year and has guided the Falcons to a program record undefeated season at 29-0, leading the Falcons to their sixth NCAA Tournament “Frozen Four” berth in program history.

UWRF defeated UW-Eau Claire to secure its fifth consecutive WIAC O’Brien Cup Championship, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, defeating Gustavus Adolphus College in the quarterfinals.

In his 25th season leading the Falcons, Cranston is the first and only head women’s hockey coach in UWRF history and has 490 career wins, the fourth most in NCAA Division III women’s hockey history. Earning his first career National Coach of the Year award, he has been named the runner-up three times, and is a nine-time Conference Coach of the Year. Under Cranston, 40 Falcons have earned All-America status, including AHCA Players of the Year Dani Sibley in 2017, Callie Hoff in 2022 and Maddie McCollins this year.

A 1990 graduate of UW-River Falls, Cranston began his coaching career in his hometown of Fergus Falls, Minn., and then coached the boys’ high school team in Somerset, Wis., for over a decade before starting the UWRF women’s hockey varsity program in 1999. He will receive his award at the AHCA Convention on Thursday, May 2, in Naples, FL.

Cranston was assisted this year by Jim Walsh, Amanda Ryder and Jeremy Weiss. The runner-up for this year's award was Greg Haney of Elmira College.

CCMThe CCM AHCA COACH of the YEAR AWARDS are sponsored by CCM HOCKEY and chosen by members of the AMERICAN HOCKEY COACHES ASSOCIATION. CCM is the legendary hockey brand dedicated to the endless pursuit of performance by delivering game-changing, head-to-toe innovative hockey equipment to players worldwide.

Winners of the CCM/AHCA Women’s Division III Coach of the Year Award
2000 Ted Wisner, Colgate
2001 Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2002 Jamie Wood, Elmira
2003 Michele Amidon, Bowdoin
2004 Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2005 Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2006 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2007 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2008 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2009 Jim Plumer. Amherst College
2010 Mark Bolding, Norwich
2011 Mark Bolding, Norwich
2012 Mark Bolding, Norwich
2013 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2014 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2015 Dean Jackson, Elmira
2016 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2017 Chad Davis, Adrian College
2018 Mark Bolding, Norwich
2019 Tom Palkowski, St. Thomas
2020 Kevin Houle, Plattsburgh State
2021 Not Awarded
2022 Bill Mandigo, Middlebury
2023 Emily McNamara, Hamilton
2024 Joe Cranston, Wisconsin-River Falls