P.K. O’Handley led the Waterloo Black Hawks on a thrilling run to the end of the regular season, which included winning the Anderson Cup during the final night on the schedule; Wednesday, the United States Hockey League named him both the 2018 USHL Coach of the Year and 2018 USHL General Manager of the Year.
In 16 seasons leading Waterloo, it is the fourth time that O’Handley has been presented with the coaching honor (previously 2003, 2007 and 2014). The award as general manager is his third, following commendations from his peers in 2003 and 2012.
“I’m proud to accept these awards on behalf of our entire staff, including Shane Fukushima, Bryce Anderson, Jon Sherman, Todd Klein, and Spenser Popinga, because it takes many dedicated people to have success in this league,” O’Handley said. “Most of all, I would like to recognize our players who have been a special group and consistently found success regardless of the circumstances all year.”
Waterloo finished the 2017/18 season with a flourish. Winning the final six games from March 31st to the season finale, the Hawks rallied claim the Anderson Cup for having the league’s best regular season record. At 38-14-8, Waterloo finished one point ahead of the U.S. National Team Development program. It is the third Anderson Cup the Hawks have secured since the USHL became an all-junior league in 1979/80. O’Handley has been the head coach all three times the trophy has come to the Cedar Valley.
Regarding the recognition as General Manager of the Year, O’Handley again shared the credit.
“Shane has been with our team for 12 seasons and does such a tremendous job, year-in and year-out, both on the coaching side and with player personnel as we build or team, from scouting, through the draft, and during our camps.”
The Hawks opened 2017/18 with a strong roster of players, including three forwards (Jack Drury, Jackson Cates, and Ben Copeland) who finished among the USHL’s top ten scorers. Along the way, the team added other key contributors like veterans Solag Bakich and Evan Dougherty. In January, the Hawks acquired Florida Panthers prospect Ben Finkelstein, who won the USHL Defenseman of the Year award, appearing the 23 regular season games and contributing 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists).
O’Handley and the Hawks are currently trying to add a coda to the already-memorable 2017/18 USHL campaign during the Clark Cup Playoffs. Waterloo’s best-of-five Western Conference Final series versus the Fargo Force is tied at one win apiece. Game Three is Friday in Fargo.