Bob Boughner of the Windsor Spitfires, whose team had to deal with the tragic death of its captain this season, was named the Ontario Hockey League's coach of the year Thursday.
Boughner led Windsor to a 41-15-7-5 record in just his second season behind the bench, an amazing 51-point improvement from the previous year.
But the Spitfires' season was dealt a tragic blow in February when captain Mickey Renaud died suddenly. He was only 19 years old.
The Spitfires did finish the season with eight wins in their final nine games but lost to Sarnia in the opening round of the playoffs.
Boughner, a 37-year-old Windsor native, purchased the Spitfires along with Warren Rychel and Peter Dobrich in 2006. He guided them to an 18-43-2-5 record in his first season behind the bench.
"This is quite an honour I must say," Boughner said. "At training camp, our goal was just to try to get into the top eight teams and get into the playoffs.
"As the season went and the tragedy hit, obviously hockey was secondary at that point. As a coach, the biggest thing I'll have to face was trying to get a bunch of teenagers and myself and our families through that tragedy.
"It was a little disappointing to lose in the first round but all in all when I look back it was a season that we exceeded our expectations and we proved to ourselves that we could be one of the best in the league. We've got a lot of work to do next year but we like where we are coming from."
The league also named Mike Murphy of the Belleville Bulls as its top goalie this season.
Murphy, 19, of Inverary, Ont., was 36-7-3-1 with a league best 2.24 goals-against average and .929 save percentage to go along with three shutouts in 49 games this season.
He helped the Bulls win the Eastern Conference regular-season title and set new team records for wins (48) and points (102) in a season.
"Definitely going into the start of the season, everyone knew that we had a great hockey team," Murphy said. "I was definitely the question mark because I hadn't really played in too many games last year."
Hartford's Andrew Hutchinson named AHL's outstanding defenceman
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Andrew Hutchinson of the Hartford Wolf Pack was named the American Hockey League's top defenceman Thursday.
Hutchinson had 18 goals and 46 assists in 65 games this season. The Wolf Pack captain is also tied among AHL defenceman with 13 power-play goals.
The 28-year-old American is in his sixth season of pro hockey.