American Hockey League

Vellucci voted AHL’s top coach for 2018-19

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mike Vellucci of the Charlotte Checkers is the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for the 2018-19 season.

The award is voted on by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 cities.

Under Vellucci’s guidance, the Checkers had their most successful regular season ever in 2018-19, finishing with a league-best record of 51-17-7-1 (110 points) and the 10th-highest points percentage (.724) in AHL history. Charlotte led the league in penalty killing at 86.6 percent and ranked second in goals allowed (2.49 per game) while also placing fifth in scoring (3.36 goals scored per game). Vellucci has also been instrumental in developing prospects for the Carolina Hurricanes, who reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season for the first time in a decade; 11 different Checkers players earned recalls to Carolina this season.

Vellucci, a 52-year-old native of Farmington, Mich., is in his second season as head coach of the Checkers and his fifth year as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations for the Hurricanes. He previously spent 14 seasons with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League, where he was twice named OHL Coach of the Year (2007, 2013). Vellucci was a 1984 draft choice by the Hartford Whalers and played professionally in several leagues, including 40 games in the AHL with Binghamton.

The Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, which was first presented in 1968, honors the late Mr. Pieri, a long-time contributor to the AHL as the owner and general manager of the Providence Reds and a member of the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Previous winners of the award include Frank Mathers (1969), Fred Shero (1970), Al MacNeil (1972, ’77), John Muckler (1975), Jacques Demers (1983), Larry Pleau (1987), Mike Milbury (1988), John Paddock (1988), Marc Crawford (1993), Barry Trotz (1994), Robbie Ftorek (1995, ’96), Peter Laviolette (1999), Claude Julien and Geoff Ward (2003), Claude Noel (2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2005), Kevin Dineen (2006), Scott Gordon (2008), Scott Arniel (2009), John Hynes (2011), Jon Cooper (2012), Willie Desjardins (2013), Jeff Blashill (2014), Mike Stothers (2015), Rick Kowalsky (2016), Roy Sommer (2017) and Pascal Vincent (2018).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway Wednesday.

Photo: China Wong/AHL

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