The United States Hockey League today announced that Jon Cooper of the Green Bay Gamblers has been named both the USHL Coach of the Year presented by KwikRink and the USHL General Manager of the Year presented by JLG Architects. The awards were determined by a vote of League coaches and general managers.
"The USHL gives out separate awards for the League's top General Manager, and its top Head Coach for good reason – the demands of each position are separate, unique, and extraordinarily challenging," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince. "It's a tribute to Jon's extraordinary talents that he has managed to excel in both, managing the overall hockey operations of a superb Green Bay Gamblers organization while coaching a team that has now won two consecutive Anderson Cups and is preparing for the Clark Cup Finals. These are well-deserved awards for an impressive performance in all facets this year."
Cooper led the Gamblers to their second straight Anderson Cup title as the team compiled a League-best 45-10-5 record and 95 points in the standings during the 2009-10 regular season. The 45 wins by the Gamblers are the most in team history and the highest win total in the USHL since the Omaha Lancers won 46 games during the 2000-01 campaign. Green Bay led the League in both home wins (22) and road victories (23), which is one shy of equaling the USHL record of 24 road wins established by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders during the 2004-05 season. The Gamblers set a League season high when they won 15 consecutive games from December 15th, 2009 to February 3rd, 2010. They were also the top defensive squad this season, allowing the fewest goals in the USHL (140).
Since Cooper joined the organization prior to the 2008-09 season, the Gamblers have posted an 84-27-9 record in the regular season. They have also tallied a 10-4 record in the playoffs over two years, which includes this season as Green Bay has earned a spot in the Clark Cup Finals. Three Gamblers players were also individually recognized by the USHL this season as David Makowski was named USHL Defenseman of the Year, Steve Summerhays was named USHL Goaltender of the Year, and forward Anders Lee was named USHL Rookie of the Year. All three players also earned All-USHL First Team honors.
Last season, Cooper guided the Gamblers to the largest turnaround in USHL history as they improved 50 points in the standings from the previous year and won the Anderson Cup on the final day of the regular season with a 39-17-4 record (82 points).
In addition to victories, Cooper has helped develop and prepare Green Bay players for the next levels of hockey. Sixteen of the players on the roster this season have commitments to continue their careers at NCAA Division I hockey programs. Last June, Gamblers defenseman Nick Jensen was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the fifth round (150th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft following his first USHL season. Later in the summer, Michael Forney signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Atlanta Thrashers after leading the Gamblers in scoring during the 2008-09 season.
It is the eighth time in USHL history that an individual has been named both the USHL Coach of the Year and USHL General Manager of the Year in the same season; P.K. O'Handley (2002-03), Mike Hastings (2001-02, 1996-97), Steve Johnson (2000-01), Bob Ferguson (1991-92, 1985-86), and Frank Serratore (1984-85).
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)