Omaha Mavericks assistant coach Paul Jerrard dies at 57
One of college hockey's most respected coaches dead after lengthy battle with cancer
OMAHA, Neb. – Omaha assistant coach Paul Jerrard died Wednesday, Feb. 15, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 57.
"Our program will be forever indebted to PJ for his countless positive impact,” Omaha hockey head coach Mike Gabinet said in a statement. “PJ attacked each day with a team-first attitude, vibrant enthusiasm, and an unmatched willingness to help grow and develop our young men. Knowing PJ first as my coach in pro hockey, and now having had the chance to work alongside him each day, I am beyond grateful for the lessons he shared and the loyal friendship we forged.
"There were no small jobs for PJ, and he never had a bad day. He made the people around him better and we will forever miss his presence in our locker room and lives. He was a man who lived his life with great integrity, class, and the desire to always be the best role-model and citizen he could be.”
Hired by the Mavericks in May of 2018, Jerrard came to Omaha with an impressive resume in hockey - both on the ice and behind the bench.
Omaha Athletics Mourns the Passing of Hockey Titan and Assistant Coach Paul Jerrard— Omaha Hockey (@OmahaHKY) February 16, 2023
Rest In Peace Coach Jerrard pic.twitter.com/qj54SP0G6c
Jerrard racked up 113 points (40-73-113) in 156 games at Lake Superior State (1983-1987) and followed it with a 10-year professional career in both the AHL and International Hockey League. Along with a brief stint with the Minnesota North Stars.
The Winnipeg native played 661 professional games and has been behind a professional or college bench since 1997.
His coaching career started back at Lake Superior State in 1997, the year after his final season playing for the Hershey Bears. He spent four of his first five seasons coaching at his alma mater.
The Hershey Bears are saddened to learn of the passing of former player and assistant coach Paul Jerrard.— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) February 16, 2023
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/t740b1Okgg
Jerrard spent 16 seasons behind either an AHL or NHL bench, including two as an assistant for the Calgary Flames (2016-2018), before coming to Omaha.
"This is a tough day for Maverick hockey. Paul Jerrard has been a big part of the success of Omaha Hockey for the past five years," Executive Associate Athletic Director and Hockey Sport Administrator Mike Kemp said in a statement. "His positive outlook, bright personality and immense faith made a huge impact on everyone. He brightened every room that he entered.
“The players who worked under his tutelage were extremely fortunate to have learned and been mentored by Paul. He will be deeply missed by all."
Jerrard’s time in Omaha was primarily spent coaching on the back end where he helped develop the likes of Brandon Scanlin, Victor Mancini and Ryan Jones, among several others.
An absolute warrior of a human being. Thank you for everything that you did for me, my teammates, and the game of hockey. Going to miss you so much. RIP ❤️ https://t.co/tI96MKnYSu— Victor Mancini (@vmanc23) February 16, 2023
RIP to one of the best humans I have ever met. You are going to be missed by so many. Thank you for everything, coach. https://t.co/57EzIje199— Ryan Jones (@RJones2696) February 16, 2023
Those who came through the program always talked glowingly about Jerrard’s impact and Jerrard was one of college hockey’s most respected coaches.
“Despite his difficult battle over the past year, he remained remarkably positive, loyal, and always willing to help others, especially the student-athletes under his care,” Omaha Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Adrian Dowell said. “Paul was the ultimate example of a servant leader, and the legacy of his character will live on through his incredible family, our department, and the countless number of student-athletes and coaches he impacted along the way.”
On top of his work on the ice with the Mavericks, he was an active member of College Hockey for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Jerrard’s impact was felt throughout the sport and strived to make hockey a better place.
The Mavericks are scheduled to play at pair of games at Miami this weekend.
“He was my coach, mentor, colleague and most importantly friend who will be deeply missed,” Gabinet said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Cheryl and daughters Catherine and Meaghan."