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Monarchs’ Stothers voted coach of the year

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mike Stothers of the Manchester Monarchs has been voted the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for the 2014-15 season. The award is voted on by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

In his first season with Manchester, Stothers has guided the Monarchs to the AHL’s regular-season points title with three games still remaining. The Monarchs’ 48-16-6-3 record (.719) leaves them one point shy of securing the highest single-season points percentage in franchise history, and they will enter the Calder Cup Playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Manchester ranks third in the AHL in offense (3.19 goals per game) and second in defense (2.29), as well as first on the power play (21.0 percent). Under Stothers’ guidance, forwards Brian O’Neill and Jordan Weal are two of the top three scorers in the entire league this season, Colin Miller has emerged as one of the AHL’s top young defensemen, and Jean-Francois Berube and Patrik Bartosak have forged one of the AHL’s most successful goaltending tandems. The Monarchs have been in first place in the Atlantic Division since Nov. 16 and have lost consecutive games in regulation only once all season (Oct. 25-31).

Stothers, 53, joined the Los Angeles Kings organization on July 1, 2014, as the fourth head coach in Monarchs history following three seasons as head coach of Moose Jaw (WHL). In the AHL, Stothers spent one season as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2007-08, and was an assistant with the Hershey Bears (1994-96) and Philadelphia Phantoms (1996-2000), winning a Calder Cup championship in 1998. Stothers was also an assistant coach in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers. As a player, Stothers, a Toronto-born defenseman, was selected in the first round of the 1980 NHL Draft by Philadelphia. He played 671 AHL games and won a Calder Cup with the Maine Mariners in 1984.

The Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, which was first presented in 1968, honors the late Mr. Pieri, a long-time contributor to the AHL as the owner and general manager of the Providence Reds and a member of the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Previous winners of the award include Frank Mathers (1969), Fred Shero (1970), Al MacNeil (1972, ’77), John Muckler (1975), Jacques Demers (1983), Larry Pleau (1987), Mike Milbury (1988), John Paddock (1988), Marc Crawford (1993), Barry Trotz (1994), Robbie Ftorek (1995, ’96), Peter Laviolette (1999), Claude Julien and Geoff Ward (2003), Claude Noel (2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2005), Kevin Dineen (2006), Mike Haviland (2007), Scott Gordon (2008), Scott Arniel (2009), John Hynes (2011), Jon Cooper (2012), Willie Desjardins (2013) and Jeff Blashill (2014).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2014-15 regular season ends Sunday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.

The winner of the 2014-15 Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award (outstanding goaltender) will be announced Thursday.