Heat’s Love wins Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mitch Love of the Stockton Heat is the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for the 2021-22 season.

The award is voted on by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 member cities.

In his first season as a head coach in the American Hockey League, Love guided Stockton the best record ever by a Calgary Flames AHL affiliate at 45-16-5-2 (.713). The Heat were unbeaten in regulation over their first 12 games (10-0-2-0) and never looked back, capturing the Pacific Division title and finishing second in the overall league standings and first overall in penalty killing (86.6 percent). Stockton also ranked third in the AHL in both goals for (3.56) and goals allowed (2.72) per game, joining Norfolk (2011-12) and Toronto (2017-18) as the only teams to finish among top three in both categories in the same season in the last decade.

Love also sent several players to the National Hockey League to compete with the Flames this season while continuing to oversee the development of Calgary prospects such as Jakob Pelletier, Connor Mackey, Emilio Pettersen, Adam Ruzicka, Connor Zary, Juuso Valimaki, Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin, Walker Duehr and 2021-22 First Team AHL All-Star Dustin Wolf.

Love joined the Flames organization on July 12, 2021, from Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League, where he had spent three seasons as head coach. He also served as an assistant with Everett (WHL) for seven seasons, and has coached internationally with Hockey Canada’s U17, U18 and U20 programs. Love played six seasons of professional hockey, including 278 games in the AHL with the Lowell Lock Monsters, Albany River Rats, Lake Erie Monsters, Houston Aeros and Peoria Rivermen.

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), Scott Gordon (2008), Scott Arniel (2009), John Hynes (2011), Jon Cooper (2012), Willie Desjardins (2013), Jeff Blashill (2014), Mike Stothers (2015), Rick Kowalsky (2016), Roy Sommer (2017), Pascal Vincent (2018), Mike Vellucci (2019), Karl Taylor (2020) and Spencer Carbery (2021).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 32 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 winner of the 2021-22 Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award (outstanding goaltender) will be announced Thursday.