UTICA, NY – Head Coach Gary Heenan of the Utica College men’s ice hockey team has been named the 2019-20 US College Hockey Online Division III Men’s Coach of the Year. The honor was announced on Tuesday by the national college hockey website based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This is Heenan’s first time winning a national coach of the year award. He previously was the USCHO runner-up in 2013 as the Pioneers made their historic run to the national semifinals. He was also named a conference coach of the year for the third time in his career last month.
Heenan guided UC to its best regular season and conference postseason in the history of the program. In doing so, he put out his own best work yet with Utica. He is the only head coach the program has ever had.
Heenan led the Pioneers to a 25-2-2 overall record, the UCHC regular season championship, and a UCHC Tournament Title. The 25 wins are a convincing program record, and UC also set a new benchmark for winning percentage. The team wrapped up the season on a school record 20 game winning streak and was the top seed in the 2020 NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Utica’s second national tournament appearance was slated to begin on Saturday, March 21st in the quarterfinal round.
Over the past three seasons, Utica has had at least 20 wins each year. They have won the last four conference regular season titles between the UCHC and former ECAC West, and have claimed two out of the three postseason championships in the UCHC’s existence.
Heenan has compiled 290 career wins behind the bench at Utica in nineteen seasons. He is the twelfth-winningest active coach in Division III, and is tied for 30th all-time in career victories. He needs just 10 wins to become the 32nd Division III head coach to hit 300 wins, and needs fourteen wins to tie his mentor at Hamilton College, Phil Grady, on the career list.
Heenan’s next major honor could come on Friday, when the American Hockey Coaches’ Association releases their winner of the 2020 Ed Jeremiah Division III Coach of the Year Award. That award is one of the highest single season coaching honors in all of college hockey.