Brad Berry wins third-straight Herb Brooks Coach of the Year award
The Fighting Hawks bench boss has earned the honor four times in his seven seasons at UND
ST. PAUL, Minn. — UND lost nearly every key player from last year's Penrose Cup-winning team.
UND's entire top line signed NHL contracts, including Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist Jordan Kawaguchi.
Center Shane Pinto, also a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist and National Collegiate Hockey Conference MVP, signed with Ottawa. Third-line center Jasper Weatherby signed with San Jose on the first day of school. UND's top defensive pairing — Jacob Bernard-Docker and Matt Kiersted — signed NHL contracts. Both of its goaltenders left, too.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year — and that was before anyone knew star defenseman Jake Sanderson would suffer three different injuries and miss more than half of the NCHC season.
Even so, UND ended up winning the Penrose Cup again.
For that, Fighting Hawks head coach Brad Berry won the NCHC's Herb Brooks Coach of the Year award on Thursday in St. Paul.
It marked the third-straight year Berry has earned the honor and the fourth time in his seven years as UND's head coach.
Berry spoke at a banquet Thursday night after being presented the trophy by Brooks' daughter, Kelly Paradise.
Berry directed most of his comments at his players, saying that, "when you come to North Dakota, you check your ego at the door." He said this team did that en route to their surprising league title.
"I love you guys," Berry said to his team. "Let's get after it."
Tasked with bringing aboard UND's largest class of newcomers in 48 years, Berry devised a plan to add nine rookies and five players out of the NCAA transfer portal.
The portal had been around for a few years but had never seen an explosion of players entering like last spring.
Teams jumped at the chance to improve their squads with experienced college players, but no one did more to improve their team through the portal than Berry and his assistants, Dane Jackson and Karl Goehring.
They nabbed five players — center Connor Ford from Bowling Green, winger Ashton Calder from Lake Superior State, defenseman Chris Jandric from Alaska, defenseman Brady Ferner from RPI and goaltender Zach Driscoll from Bemidji State.
Ford won the NCHC's defensive forward of the year honor. Driscoll was second-team all-conference. Calder is second on UND in goals, Jandric has been a top-four defenseman all season and Ferner a reliable third-pair defender.
The transfers quickly meshed with the nine rookies and 13 returning players.
UND went to Christmas break in first place, dipped out of the top of the standings in January, then made a furious charge back to the top in February, despite playing much of the month shorthanded due to key injuries.
The Fighting Hawks won the Penrose Cup in March, earned a trip to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff and will be in the NCAA tournament next week.
Berry recently signed a new contract with UND through the 2025-26 season.
NCHC Herb Brooks Coach of the Year winners
2014 — Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State
2015 — Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
2016 — Brad Berry, North Dakota
2017 — Andy Murray, Western Michigan
2018 — Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State
2019 — Brett Larson, St. Cloud State
2020 — Brad Berry, North Dakota
2021 — Brad Berry, North Dakota
2022 — Brad Berry, North Dakota