By Adam Duke
A little over a month after leading Canisius to its first ever Atlantic Hockey regular season title with a win over Mercyhurst, coach Dave Smith has been named a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, which is presented to the best coach in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey each year.
The nominees this year include each coach that was awarded Coach of the Year for their respective conference, as well as the coaches whose teams have reached the NCAA semifinals. Because Smith won the AHC’s Coach of the Year Award, he has been named a finalist.
The 10 finalists include: Smith, Norm Bazin from UMass Lowell, Rick Bennett from Union College, Ted Donato from Harvard University, Tony Granato from the University of Wisconsin, Jeff Jackson from Notre Dame, Jim Montgomery from Denver University, Andy Murray from Western Michigan University, Scott Sandelin from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Tom Serratore from Bemidji State University.
Of the nominees, four have won the award in the past, as Bazin, Bennett, Jackson, and Sandelin have each been recipients since the turn of the millennium.
The award is named after Spencer Penrose, the benefactor that established the Broadmoor Hotel Complex where the first 10 NCAA hockey tournaments were played. It is sponsored by CCM, the manufacturer of a wide range of hockey equipment.
The Spencer Penrose Award winner will be announced on April 5, prior to the NCAA hockey tournament’s Frozen Four, and will be presented on April 26 at the American Hockey Coaches Association banquet in Naples, Fla. It was first awarded in 1951 to Dartmouth College’s Eddie Jeremiah.
With Smith at the helm of the program for his twelfth season in 2016-17, the Griffs led the AHC on the power play with a .246 percentage, as well as the penalty kill, with a .899 percentage. The team went on its longest ever unbeaten streak, with 17 straight games without a loss, and the team had the fifth ranked scoring defense and the sixth-least goals against.
A former center at The Ohio State University and at the professional level, Smith has led the Griffs to five AHC quarterfinals, three semifinals, a championship runner-up, and the team’s first ever Atlantic Hockey Championship in 2012-13.
This year, Charles Williams and Geoff Fortman each signed professional contracts, making them the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth Griffs under Smith to do so.
Under Smith this season, the team went 21-11-7, with an 18-4-6 record in the AHC.