WORCESTER, MA - Worcester Sharks (@worcestersharks) Head Coach Roy Sommer, a native of Oakland, CA, is poised to become the American Hockey League's (AHL) all-time games-coached leader tonight when he steps behind the bench against the Portland Pirates in Lewiston, ME, to coach his 1,257th career AHL game.
He is one of just 14 individuals to coach more than 1,200 NHL or AHL hockey games.
Sommer, who plays an instrumental role developing players for the San Jose Sharks, is currently in his 16th season behind the bench of San Jose's top developmental affiliate and in his 18th overall season with the organization. He is the longest-tenured coach in the AHL, amassing a 571-529-48-55-53 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record as head coach of the Sharks top development affiliate, who have made the Atlantic Division Finals twice during the last five seasons. In addition, he was behind the bench for the Canadian team at the 2000 AHL All-Star Classic.
Sommer, 56, currently ranks fourth on the AHL's all-time career wins list (571) working behind the bench for the Kentucky Thoroughblades, Cleveland Barons and Worcester Sharks - all San Jose Sharks development affiliates. Sommer is 19 wins shy of surpassing John Paddock and moving into sole possession of third place on the all-time AHL wins list.
"This record is a testament to the hard work, dedication and expertise that Roy Sommer brings with him to the rink each and every day and we as an organization want to congratulate him on this incredible achievement," said San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. "Reaching a milestone of this magnitude shows just how important a role Roy has played in the development of our players and prospects. Countless players have learned under his direction and his talent for molding young hockey players has played a key role in our organization's success."
As head coach for San Jose's top development team, Sommer has reached numerous personal and historical AHL milestones throughout his career, including:
- Becoming just the second coach in AHL history to reach the 1,200 games mark on Nov. 8, 2013.
- Reaching 500 wins on February 11, 2012 in a 3-2 shootout victory in Hershey, becoming just the fourth coach in AHL history to reach 500 wins.
- Becoming the fourth coach in AHL history to reach the 1,000 games plateau in a 3-1 victory over Springfield on January 14, 2011
- Earning his first win as an AHL head coach on October 17, 1998, leading the Kentucky Thoroughblades to a 6-4 victory over the Albany River Rats
- Achieving six 40+ win seasons as a coach of Kentucky, Cleveland and Worcester
Sommer's record in developing NHL players during his time in the AHL has been stellar. In total, Sommer has coached 104 players who have gone on to make their career debut in the National Hockey League after playing for him in the AHL. Out of those 104 players, a total of 80 have spent some portion of their career with San Jose. During the 2013-14 regular season, a total of 18 out of the 29 players (62%) who have dressed for San Jose have played under Sommer at some point in the developmental leagues.
Sommer joined to Sharks organization in 1996 and spent two seasons (1996-98) as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks under Head Coach Darryl Sutter. With San Jose, Sommer was responsible for pre-scouting upcoming opponents for their offensive and defensive tendencies, line combinations and special teams tactics.
A near-constant piece to Sommer's coaching staff has been Associate Coach David Cunniff, now in his 12th season working with Sommer, and witness to 414 (73%) of Sommer's 571 coaching victories.
From 1991-96, Sommer was head coach of the ECHL's Richmond Renegades. He led the Renegades to the Riley Cup (league championship) in 1994-95 after posting a 41-20-7 regular season record, was named 1995-96 Coach of the Year after leading his team to a league-best 46-11-13 mark and a league-record 105 points in capturing the Brabham Cup (best regular season record), and served as head coach of the ECHL's East All-Star Team in 1994-95 and the North All-Star Team in 1995-96.
In 1998, he served as head coach and general manager for the silver-medal winning Team USA (4-1-0 record) at the International Ice Hockey Federation In-Line Hockey World Championships in Anaheim. Sommer's squads won gold medals in each of the first two tournaments (1996 in St. Paul, Minn. and 1997 in Anaheim) and posted undefeated records each year. His three-year coaching mark at this tournament stands at an impressive 17-1-0.
The former Bay Area youth hockey player coached Roller Hockey International's San Jose Rhinos for three seasons (1994-96), including capturing the Murphy Cup (league championship) in 1995. In addition, Sommer served as head coach for RHI's 1996 Western Conference All-Star Team.
Sommer's additional ice hockey coaching experience includes assistant coaching stints with the Albany Choppers and Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League and working with USA Hockey as an assistant coach at several evaluation camps for 16- and 17-year-old players.
Prior to his coaching career, Sommer played nine seasons of professional hockey and was a sixth-round draft selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977. Sommer became only the second Bay Area-born player to play in the NHL when he made his career debut on January 28, 1981 with the Edmonton Oilers, scoring a goal in the game and playing on a line with Wayne Gretzky.
Sommer went on to spend ten seasons playing in various leagues, including serving as captain of the Wichita Wind (CHL) from 1980-83 and again with Muskegon in 1986-87 (IHL). Sommer was a member of the AHL Calder Cup Champion Maine Mariners in 1983-84 and helped lead Muskegon to the 1985-86 IHL title (Turner Cup). Prior to playing professional hockey, he won the 1975 Centennial Cup with the Calgary Centennials. In addition, Sommer was a member of the United States National Team at the World Junior Championships in 1976-77.
Sommer grew up in Oakland, CA, attending Montclair Elementary School, Montera Jr. High School and Skyline High School, before relocating to Edmonton, AB, to further his hockey career. Prior to leaving the Bay Area, Sommer played for the Berkeley Iceland Bears youth hockey program from ages 7-16. He also served as a stick boy for the Oakland Seals.
Sommer resides in Shrewsbury, Mass., with his wife Melissa and their three children: Marley, Castan and Kira.