Sommer hits impressive milestone

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.Roy Sommer of the Worcester Sharks joined one of the American Hockey League’s most exclusive clubs tonight when he was behind the bench as his Sharks visited the Springfield Falcons, his 1,000th regular-season game as an AHL head coach.

He is the fourth man in the league’s 75-year history to reach that milestone, joining AHL Hall of Famers Frank Mathers (1,256), Fred “Bun” Cook (1,171) and John Paddock (1,125).

Sommer has worked all of his 1,000 games as the head coach of the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliates, a post he first assumed in 1998. In his 12-1/2 seasons with Kentucky (1998-2001), Cleveland (2001-06) and Worcester (2006- ), Sommer has coached more than 80 players who have spent time in the National Hockey League, including Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Doug Murray, Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, Miikka Kiprusoff, Brad Boyes, Christian Ehrhoff, Johan Hedberg and Mikael Samuelsson.

Sommer’s first game coached came on Oct. 9, 1998, a 4-4 tie against the Hershey Bears; his first career win would come on Oct. 17, a 6-4 decision over the Albany River Rats. David Cunniff, who played for Albany that night, has served as Sommer’s assistant coach since 2002.

With a career record of 460-458-81 through his first 999 games, Sommer also ranks fourth all-time in AHL victories. His teams have won three division titles and made the Calder Cup Playoffs seven times.

Sommer, a 53-year-old native of Oakland, Calif., played 10 seasons of professional hockey including a two-year stay with the AHL’s Maine Mariners that saw him win a Calder Cup championship in 1984. He appeared in three NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980-81 and scored a goal in his NHL debut.