New England Prep School Hockey had some high achievers this year both as coaches and players. Each year the NZ staff evaluates each program and votes on a coach of the year based on team’s performance throughout the season.
This year was a tight race as several coaches led their teams to strong seasons but the differentiator between the top two vote getters was how their teams overachived.
The five highest vote getters were Andrew Will (Salisbury); John Gardner (Avon); Dan Donato (Dexter); Mike Traggio (Hotchkiss); Dan Driscoll (Berkshire).
“Our first votes are to identify who the best 5 are; the next round is to pick the winner and runner up,” said Brian Murphy, Neutral Zone Vice President. “If you look at those five teams there is a clear difference in talent between Dexter-Salisbury-Avon and Hotchkiss and Berkshire. We felt for those two teams to make it to the Elite 8 and for some of the quality wins they had both home and on the road, they were the two top candidates for Coach of the Year.”
Dan Driscoll is in his 14th season at Berkshire School and reached the 400 win mark this season putting him in rare class of prep coaches. They had a deep, veteran roster who played hard every game, never took a night off and were able to claw their way into the Elite 8 despite one of the toughest schedules in prep hockey. The Bears had a 20-win season with victories over #1 Lawrence (on the road), #2 Avon and #3 Salisbury (on the road). They were the #8 seed in the Elite 8 and knocked off the #1 Lawrence at their home infront of a ruckus crowd.
Runner up was Mike Traggio of Hotchkiss School. While he had prep’s best goaltender in Henry Wilder, the rest of the team had to grind out victories and they finished the year with quality wins over Elite 8 teams Berkshire and Nobles & Greenough as well as other playoff contenders Loomis, Kent, Deerfield and Millbrook. Hotchkiss had 18 wins on the season and earned their first playoff bid to Elite 8.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images