The United States Hockey League announced that hockey coaching legends Ron Mason and Doug Woog will serve as honorary coaches for the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Muskegon, Michigan on January 23rd. In addition, head coaches Jim Montgomery of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Cary Eades of the Sioux Falls Stampede have been named to the coaching staffs for the event, earning the nod as each of their teams was leading their respective conferences on January 1st.
The USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game features 40 of the top NHL draft-eligible players currently playing in the USHL as they compete in front of scouts and decision makers from NHL clubs at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon. Of the 40 players selected, 31 have secured NCAA Division I hockey opportunities following their USHL careers.
Mason had a 36-year career coaching hockey at the college level with stints at Lake Superior State University, Bowling Green State University, and Michigan State University. He was the all-time wins leader in NCAA history with 924 before just recently being surpassed by Jerry York of Boston College. Mason coached Michigan State for 23 seasons (1979-2002) and led the Spartans to 21 appearances in the NCAA tournament. He guided the school to the NCAA Championship in 1986 with a team that included Team USA head coach Danton Cole.
Over his 36 seasons as a coach, he had winning records in 33 of them, including earning 20-or-more victories in 30 of those seasons. Mason’s teams captured 10 CCHA regular season and 13 conference tournament titles while advancing to the NCAA Frozen Four on eight occasions. He led Bowling Green State University to a then NCAA record 37 wins in 1978-79 which was later broken by his 1984-85 Michigan State team that earned 38 victories. Mason also had a successful playing career which included three seasons at St. Lawrence University. He led the team in scoring twice and helped the school win their first-ever conference title and reach NCAA Frozen Four.
Woog spent 14 seasons (1985-99) as the head coach at the University of Minnesota where he became the school’s all-time winningest coach posting a 389-187-40 record. He led the Gophers to seven conference titles and 12 appearances in the NCAA tournament, including six trips to the NCAA Frozen Four. Woog was an assistant for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and has served in multiple coaching roles for U.S. National Teams. In 2002, he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Minnesota native began his coaching career in the early 1970’s with the St. Paul Vulcans in the Midwest Junior Hockey League which is the pedigree of what would become the USHL. Woog had a stellar playing career at the University of Minnesota in which he led the team in scoring and earned All-American honors as junior before being named team captain as a senior. He would go on to play in the USHL prior to it becoming an all junior league.
Both Mason and Woog coached a number of USHL alumni during their careers behind the bench in college hockey.
Montgomery is in his third season coaching the Dubuque Fighting Saints and his team currently holds the best record in the USHL with a 23-6-2 mark (48 points). He has won 96 games during his time in the League and led the Saints to the Clark Cup title in 2011. He was also named USHL General Manager of the Year for the 2010-11 season. Five players have gone on to be selected in the NHL Draft after playing under Montgomery, including two first-round picks in 2012 (Zemgus Girgensons and Mike Matheson).
He played 12 seasons of professional hockey, including parts of six seasons in the NHL. Montgomery had a record-setting collegiate career at the University of Maine where he is the school’s all-time leading scorer and captained the Black Bears to their first NCAA Championship in 1993. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist that season alongside his linemate Paul Kariya who went on to win the award.
Eades is in his first season with the Sioux Falls Stampede and has the team on top of the Western Conference standings with a 22-8-1 record (45 points). The Stampede are tied for the League lead with 16 home victories and are currently the only USHL team with seven different skaters who have scored 10-or-more goals this season. Eades earned his 100th USHL career coaching victory earlier this season.
It is the second stint in the USHL for Eades after coaching the Dubuque Fighting Saints for two seasons (1991-93). He compiled an 87-32-7 record in Dubuque and earned recognition as USHL General Manager of the Year for the 1991-92 season. Prior to coming to Sioux Falls, he was on the coaching staff at the University of North Dakota for eight seasons and helped the team reach the NCAA Frozen Four on five occasions. Eades would coach 17 players at North Dakota who would go on to play in the NHL.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)