Weber State University hockey coach Joe Pfleegor will be presented with the Utah Amateur Hockey Association Coach of the Year award tonight at the Maverik Center in West Valley City at 7 p.m.
Pfleegor is coming off of a successful season for WSU hockey, finishing with a 26-10-3 regular season record. The team ended the season ranked fourth in the West Region and made it to the quarterfinals of the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament last March. The Wildcats finished with a record of 1-1-1 in the tournament.
Pfleegor first coached the Wildcat hockey team as an assistant from 2000 to 2004 and then as a head coach from 2004 to 2006. He left after the 2005–06 season, but returned last season, leading the team to one of its most successful seasons ever.
“It feels awesome,” Pfleegor said. “But it’s really more of a reward for the team for last year, what we accomplished, because it takes a team effort to do it — not just the coaches but the players. It represents everybody. The great thing is that it represents the school and the community. It’s just great to see the team get the recognition they deserve.”
WSU hockey players also said they are pleased with the award going to their coach.
“I think it’s definitely well deserved,” said team captain Braxton Green. “He stepped in when Weber was kind of struggling for a while. He turned the program around — within a year, really. He went out and found the right players that we needed in order to compete at a national level.”
The award is open to any Utah hockey coach registered with the UAHA.
“It goes to Utah’s most outstanding coach,” said UAHA President Fred Wilner. “Anybody that is involved in any of our Utah hockey programs is eligible. The criteria that the selection committee used was team leadership, team improvement, motivating players, sportsmanship, skills and abilities, and development of new players.”
Pfleegor wasn’t given the award based solely on his time coaching WSU, but also for his contributions to other UAHA programs.
“One of the reasons that I know that Joe was considered is because, aside from coaching at Weber State, he also helps us with a program called the Utah Union Teams,” Wilner said. “It’s great for our college coaches to get involved in our programs and to give the younger kids a taste of where they can go next in their career. Obviously, not too many Utah players go into the NHL, but with the four ACHA programs in the state, there’s certainly opportunities past high school for a lot of our young players without having to ever leave the borders of Utah.”
Pfleegor’s experience with the sport has paid dividends in his approach with his players.
“He’s gone out and recruited players from all over the U.S.,” Green said. “He comes into practice with plans, and whenever we have games, he does homework on teams we are playing against, what players to cover. He is very committed and always seems to know what the next step is going to be in order for us to compete at a national level and do well.”
Wilner said he thinks Pfleegor is very deserving of the award.
“We are very excited to give him the award on Tuesday.”