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Derek Lalonde Named USHL Coach of the Year

Friday June 1, 2012

Derek Lalonde led the Green Bay Gamblers to a team record 47 victories and the Clark Cup title. (photos by Marshall Art Photography)

First-year head coach led Green Bay Gamblers to team record 47 victories

The United States Hockey League today announced that Derek Lalonde of the Green Bay Gamblers has been named 2011-12 USHL Coach of the Year as determined by a vote of League coaches.

Lalonde led the Green Bay Gamblers to a 47-9-4 record (98 points) during the regular season.  The 47 wins were the most in team history and were also the most by a first-year USHL head coach.  The 98 points accumulated by the Gamblers established a new USHL record, breaking the mark of 97 points recorded by the Des Moines Buccaneers during the 1998-99 season.  Having the best record in the USHL earned the Gamblers their third Anderson Cup title over the past four seasons.

“In his rookie coaching year, Derek took a squad of talented players, some of whom he’d never met, and brought them where few USHL teams have gone before in terms of wins, consistency, and ultimately the 2011-12 Clark Cup Championship,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince.  “His dedication to his craft was apparent from the first game of the season, and you could see it both on and off the ice in terms of the team’s commitment to excellence.   We’re lucky to have him in the United States Hockey League, and congratulate Derek, his staff, and the Gamblers organization on a well-deserved award.”

During the second to last game of the regular season, Lalonde guided Green Bay to a 7-1 victory at Youngstown which was the team’s 25th road win of the season.  That set a new USHL record which was previously held by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders who won 24 road games during the 2004-05 season.

Green Bay never lost consecutive games during the regular season and set a new team record with just nine total losses.  They were dominate throughout the season as they led the USHL with 250 goals and gave up the fewest goals (138) in the League.  The goal differential of plus-112 by the Gamblers was the largest by a team in the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) and was 70 more goals than the next highest team this season (Lincoln Stars plus-42).  Green Bay had the second best power play in the League (23.8%) and their 26.2% conversion rate on the man-advantage at home was tops in the USHL.

Lalonde helped Green Bay Gamblers players achieve career seasons.  A former goaltender himself, he coached Ryan McKay to his best season in the USHL as the third-year netminder posted a 27-5-3 record with a League leading 2.18 goals-against-average.  McKay would share honors at the 2011-12 USHL Goaltender of the Year and finishes his career as the team’s all-time leader in victories (66), GAA (2.11), and SV% (.921) during the regular season.

A pair of NHL draft picks also blossomed under the tutelage of Lalonde.  Andy Welinski, a 2011 NHL Draft selection of the Anaheim Ducks, was named the 2011-12 USHL Defenseman of the Year and also earned All-USHL First Team honors alongside teammate Alex Broadhurst, a 2011 NHL Draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks.  Broadhurst finished third overall in USHL scoring with 73 points (26g, 47a) and led the team in playoff scoring with 16 points (8g, 8a) in 12 postseason contests.

Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz was also All-USHL First Team after finishing tied for second among League defensemen in scoring with 41 points (10g, 31a) in 55 regular season games.  He is a top prospect for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft.  Coach Lalonde also helped develop two other top prospects for the 2012 NHL Draft – defenseman Dakota Mermis and forward Alex Kile.

A trio of USHL veterans had breakout seasons under Lalonde’s guidance.  Forwards Nolan LaPorte (36 goals) and Sam Herr (30 goals) both had 30-goal seasons after recording nine and ten goals, respectively, during their rookie USHL seasons.  Markus Lauridsen tied for eighth among USHL defensemen in scoring with 30 points (6g, 24a) in 58 games and his plus-32 rating was the sixth best mark in the League.

The Green Bay team had a combined plus-434 rating and of the top 20 USHL players in the plus/minus category, 11 of them were Gamblers players as all posted a plus-20 or better.

Lalonde completed his first USHL season by leading the Gamblers to the Clark Cup title.  Keeping with their regular season trend, the team did not lose consecutive games in the playoffs to capture the fourth championship in team history.  The former collegiate assistant coach also helped develop players for the next level as 20 players on Green Bay’s final roster are committed to play NCAA Division I college hockey following their USHL careers.

Lalonde is the third Green Bay Gamblers coach to be named USHL Coach of the Year, joining Jon Cooper (2009-10) and Mark Osiecki (1998-99).

 

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 10th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2011-12.  With 28 picks during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 13 NHL draftees on its rosters this season, and over 250 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL is emerging as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s multiple social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).  Fans can also watch USHL action online all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com)   

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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