Jackson named CCHA Coach of the Year
Kyle Cassily | Tuesday, March 20, 2007
DETROIT – Irish goalie Dave Brown and coach Jeff Jackson were named CCHA player and coach of the year at the league awards show here Thursday night at the Fox Theater on the same day that Brown was announced as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.
It was the second coach of the year award for Jackson, who earned the honor in 1991 with Lake Superior State, and the first CCHA player of the year award for an Irish player in school history.
The Hobey Baker Committee selected Brown to the group of 10 players under consideration for the highest trophy college hockey has to offer when it is awarded April 6 at the Frozen Four in St. Louis. A selection committee made up of media, National Hockey League scouts and coaches will decide the three finalists March 28 for the award show at the Scottrade Center.
Jackson and Brown accepted the league honors back-to-back to close out an awards show that saw Irish freshman Ryan Thang miss out on rookie of the year to Western Michigan’s Mark Letestu and defenseman Brock Sheahan lose out on best defensive defenseman to Michigan’s Matt Hunwick. Brown was honored for his All-conference first-team selection along with three other Michigan players in the midst of a show that was dominated by Michigan highlight videos and honorifics.
Jackson took to the stage and began his acceptance speech with an update of the Michigan State-Marquette basketball game being played at the same time as the show – an acknowledgement of his school days spent in East Lansing. He then thanked his entire coaching and support staff before recalling a conversation he had with his “best friend”, associate head coach Paul Pooley, right after he took the Irish job in May of 2005.
Pooley had asked him a simple question – could the two of them win at Notre Dame? Jackson confidently responded, that yes, with the quality of the Notre Dame student-athlete, they could take the program to the top. He then put the award in perspective with the player’s accomplishments, before he called college hockey “the best place to be.”
“The infusion of young players that had tremendous seasons, and, as I said, one of the best coaching staffs in the country, gave us the opportunity to build a special season,” Jackson said in his speech. “And coach of the year is nothing more than team of the year, in my opinion.”
After the envelope for player of the year was opened and Brown’s name was called, a brief highlight video of Brown’s season prefaced his speech. Brown then stepped to the podium and pulled a prepared speech from his tuxedo jacket.
“I would not be here without the great support of my teammates, and I would like to recognize the outstanding dedication, commitment and play which all started in the early morning hours of this past June,” Brown said.
“I would like to personally thank Coach Jackson, who worked so closely with me throughout the past two years and spent countless hours dissecting the craft of goaltending by my side.”
Irish freshmen Kevin Deeth, Kyle Lawson and Thang were given trophies for their selection to the league All-rookie team and Brown was also named goaltender of the year. Prior to Brown’s player of the year selection, only one Irish player had ever been named best in a league in school history, when forward Brian Walsh was named the WCHA’s most valuable player in 1977.