Sommer named AHL Coach of the Year

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Roy Sommer of the San Jose Barracuda is the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for the 2016-17 season.

The award is voted on by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

This is the first Pieri Award for Sommer, who has coached more games (1,478) than anyone in American Hockey League history. Overseeing one of the AHL’s youngest rosters, Sommer has guided the Barracuda to the Pacific Division title and the second-best record in the entire league with two games remaining in the regular season. San Jose is 43-16-2-5 (93 points, .705) and owns the AHL’s top-ranked offense (3.44 goals per game), and second-ranked power play (23.8 percent), while ranking fourth in team defense (2.56 goals per game) and eighth in penalty killing (83.3 percent). Sommer has also sent nine players to the NHL to skate with the parent San Jose Sharks this season.

Sommer, 60, is in his 19th season as a head coach in the AHL, a tenure spent entirely in the San Jose Sharks organization. The Oakland, Calif., native was named to the position on May 28, 1998, and has guided the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1998-2001), Cleveland Barons (2001-06), Worcester Sharks (2006-15) and Barracuda (2015- ) to a record of 691-675-112 and four division titles, coaching 126 players in the AHL who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League. Sommer, who spent the 1997-98 as an assistant coach with the Sharks, played 10 seasons of professional hockey 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), Jeff Blashill (2014), Mike Stothers (2015) and Rick Kowalsky (2016).

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 2016-17 regular season ends Saturday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.

The winner of the 2016-17 Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award (outstanding rookie) will be announced Thursday.