Hockey: Jeff Crouse wins NA3HL Coach of the Year award
A great season by the Alexandria Blizzard has been recognized as head coach Jeff Crouse was voted the NA3HL Coach of the Year, and forward Ryan Hadland made the All-NA3HL first team.
ALEXANDRIA - The 2022-23 NA3HL season was one to remember for the Alexandria Blizzard.
The Blizzard won the western division finals for the first time ever and made a run to finish second in the Fraser Cup Championship series.
And now head coach Jeff Crouse has been voted the NA3HL Coach of the Year for the 2022-23 season.
"I'm super honored and humbled," Crouse said. "With all the teams in the league, there's a lot of really good coaches. I've been doing this for 20 years now, and this is exciting. My family is excited; I'm super proud and honored. It's a great award, and it's something I'm definitely not going to take for granted in the future."
The NA3HL announced the winner of this award on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, along with the winner of the other league awards and the selections for the All-NA3HL teams.
"I actually didn't know about it until the general manager and head coach of the Granite City Lumberjacks, Brad Willner, shot me a text and congratulated me," Crouse said.
Each organization in the league gets one vote to determine the coach of the year.
This iteration of the Alexandria Blizzard has been around since the 2012-13 season, and every year there's been a postseason, the Blizzard have made the playoffs.
This season, the Blizzard had 32 regular season wins (tied for most in team history with the 2016-17 season) and made the deepest postseason run in the organization's history.
"The fan support has been awesome, especially in this run we've had," Crouse said. "We try to give back as much as we can in the community, and we're super involved with the school district's after-school compass program, helping with Bethany on the Lake and things like that. We want to give back to the community, and it's great to see when the stands are back and the community is behind us. You got to have fans and great support, and that's all part of it."
A couple of weeks removed from the Fraser Cup Championship game loss to the Granite City Lumberjacks, Crouse and company have been back to work, getting ready for the start of the 2023-24 season in September.
"There's a lot of work behind the scenes, and that's what we're doing right now," Crouse said. "We ended up signing 18 players and drafting another six. We're right into the recruiting process and getting a head start on that. We're a year-round operation. Right now, we're working on the schedule, getting jerseys, doing equipment orders, and being ready to go come September. I think doing that stuff is key, so you're not behind when the players come in. We have great ownership. We're obviously very involved in the community, and the community supports us. I think we do things the right way too. You see our commitments and the players moving on to the next level, and it's the total package. It takes a lot of work, but once you get everybody on the same page and doing well, I think the awards and the accolades start mounting up."
Ryan Hadland named to All-NA3HL first team
Forward Ryan Hadland has been an anchor for the Blizzard in his two seasons with the team.
His efforts this season have been recognized as he was named to the All-NA3HL first team along with five other players. He was also named to the All-West division team.
This season, the Mahtomedi native scored 70 points (team-high, 11th in the league), scoring 32 goals and dishing out 38 assists.
In this postseason, Hadland had five goals and three assists.
In his time with the Blizzard, the left-hander has scored 56 goals and has dished out 59 assists.