The United States Hockey League announced today that Sioux City Musketeers head coach Jay Varady has been named the 2017 USHL Coach of the Year and general manager Mark LeRose has been named the 2017 USHL General Manager of the Year as determined by a vote of League general managers.
Varady led the Musketeers to a 40-13-5-2 record in 2016-17, the best record in the USHL, and gave Sioux City the Anderson Cup for the first time since the 1985-86 season. The 87 points that the Musketeers amassed were the most points in club history, and 40 wins were the second highest total in team history only behind the same 1985-86 team. In addition to the team’s prolific offense, Sioux City only gave up 125 goals against, the fewest in the league, thanks in large part to 2017 USHL Player and Goaltender of the Year Matiss Kivlenieks.
After splitting their first eight games of the regular season, Sioux City won 11 consecutive wins from Oct. 26 to Nov. 26, giving the Musketeers a perfect record in the month of November. They took off again starting in late January, with 12 wins in 14 games from Jan. 27 through March 10. Sioux City won seven of their final 10 regular season games which included a seven-game win streak from March 17 through April 2. The Musketeers finished three points clear of the Waterloo Black Hawks in the Western Conference as well as the race for the Anderson Cup, and finished six points ahead of the Chicago Steel, the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Varady also was at the helm of a Musketeers offense that included three of the top-15 scorers in the USHL – top 2017 NHL Draft prospect Eeli Tolvanen (54 PTS, T- 8th in USHL), Charlie Kelleher (51 PTS, T-10th in USHL) and Odeen Tufto (48 PTS, 15th in USHL). He also coached Team USA to a gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge, and coached Team West in January’s USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. He led Team West to a 4-0 shutout in the game and had a roster that include Tolvanen as well as Musketeers defenseman Matt Hellickson.
LeRose was instrumental in building a roster that led to the Musketeers winning an Anderson Cup for the first time in 21 seasons. He acquired Tolvanen via a tender prior to the 2015-16 season, drafted Hellickson with the first overall pick in the 2016 USHL Phase II Draft, and acquired players such as Kelleher, Tufto and Tarek Baker to give Sioux City the pieces necessary to make a deep run toward the Clark Cup.
Both Varady and LeRose have been with Sioux City since the 2013-14 season. Varady joins Bob Ferguson (1985-86 and 1989-90) as well as Dave Hakstol (1997-98) as the only Musketeers coaches to be named USHL Coach of the Year. LeRose is the first Musketeers general manager to win USHL General Manager of the Year since Bob Ferguson (1985-86). It is the first season since 2009-10 that both USHL Coach of the Year and General Manager of the Year are from the same organization. Green Bay Gamblers head coach and general manager Jon Cooper was named to both awards following a season in which he won both the Anderson Cup and Clark Cup.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 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.