Photo By Dan Hickling/Hickling Images
The United States Hockey League announced today that Cedar Rapids RoughRiders head coach Mark Carlson has been named the 2016 USHL Coach of the Year as determined by a vote of League general managers. Team USA abstained from nominations and final voting this season.
Carlson led the RoughRiders to a 40-15-3-2 record, the best in the USHL this season collecting the Anderson Cup. The 40 wins was the second most in team history, only behind the 2010-11 and 2004-05 teams, both of whom captured 42 victories each. Cedar Rapids finished with 21 home wins, most in the league, and 19 road victories, tied for second most in the league.
Cedar Rapids had a red-hot start to the season, as they won their first five games, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 24-8 in the process. After losing their next four, the RoughRiders rebounded, winning 10 of their next 13 contests, including an eight-game winning streak from November 21st to December 11th. The RoughRiders also had a five-game winning streak from January 7th through January 16th, as well as a six-game winning streak from February 21st through March 5th. The RoughRiders finished four points clear of the Green Bay Gamblers in the Eastern Conference as well as the race for the Anderson Cup, and finished 12 points ahead of the Tri-City Storm, the top team in the Western Conference.
The RoughRiders were also strong with both special teams units, as their power play converted at a 20.2%, good for fourth in the league, and their penalty kill led all USHL teams with an 87% kill rate. Cedar Rapids also featured Ross Colton, the second leading scorer in the league, as well as Ben Blacker, one of the top goaltenders in the league. Both players have played under Carlson for two full seasons. Additionally, Carlson had the distinct honor of four RoughRiders selected to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Omaha, NE in January: Colton, Matt Gosiewski, Sam Sternschein and Matt Filipe.
Carlson reached a milestone on February 12th, as he coached in his 1000th career USHL game. Fittingly enough, the RoughRiders won the game 4-1.
Carlson has been the head coach in Cedar Rapids since the RoughRiders first season in 1999-2000. He has won 574 games in his 17 seasons as the bench boss in Cedar Rapids, and his teams have made the playoffs in 15 of those seasons. Carlson has also won the 2005 Clark Cup Championship, as well as three Anderson Cups, including this season. This is the third time Carlson has been named USHL Coach of the Year. He also received the award in 2011 as well as 2005. Only Bob Ferguson (Sioux City Musketeers/Des Moines Buccaneers) has more USHL Coach of the Year awards with four.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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