March 18, 2010 - Central Hockey League (CHL) - Rapid City Rush
(Rapid City, SD) - In what may be the biggest week in the short history of the Rapid City Rush, the second-year franchise can add to an already impressive resume. Just hours after Danny Battochio earned Rookie of the Year honors, the Central Hockey League (CHL) announced that Rush Head Coach Joe Ferras has been named Coach of the Year. Ferras has led a Rush squad that has clinched its first playoff spot in team history and is also in a position to claim the Northern Conference title.
"Obviously it's a great honor when you are recognized by peers in this way," said Ferras. "I am very humbled with the tremendous year that we're having, but none of this happens without a great staff and the great work by our players. This award is a product of a collective team effort starting with the addition of our assistant coach Mark DeSantis and the fine young men we put together this season. I am honored and very grateful to be able to coach hockey for living and be a part of a great league like the CHL. With the level of hockey that the CHL has reached and the great parity in the league, it is a thrill to be honored by the league and my peers. There are a number of great coaches having strong years and I feel this award could have gone to anybody."
The Brantford, Ontario native has constructed a squad that has gone 43-13-2 for a first place spot in the Northern Conference while the 43 victories and.742 winning percentage are individual career highs for the coach. The Rush have had a banner year with a number of noteworthy accomplishments and milestones. Beginning on November 21st, the Rush embarked on a franchise-long 10-game winning streak, the longest such streak in the CHL this season. In all, the Rush had a 12-game point streak and 15-game road point streak throughout the season.
On December 19th in a 6-2 win over the Tulsa Oilers, Ferras picked up the 200th win of his coaching career and four nights prior to that, he stepped behind the bench for the 400th time. Ferras was also able to send both Derek LeBlanc and Colt King up to the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose and Rochester Americans.
"It's an unbelievable accomplishment for Joe," said Assistant Coach Mark DeSantis. "After working with Joe during the off season and throughout the year, I finally get a perspective on all of the hours put in with video work, preparation and getting the players the info they need. This is fantastic for Joe, and is an accomplishment that is long overdue. I believe the fans of Rapid City should be proud to have somebody like Joe coaching their team. With all the long hours, he truly dedicates himself to do best job possible, and it's great to see his hard work finally be recognized."
Heading into the 2009-10 season, Ferras assembled a star-studded team with key acquisitions such as Les Reaney, Colt King, Scott Wray, Brendan Cook and Brendon Hodge. In his second season, he was able to increase the number of players sent to AHL camps to six. Some of the NHL affiliations for those squads include the San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, and the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins.
In the first season behind the bench in Rapid City, Ferras's squad accumulated 22 wins and 53 points, good enough for 3rd in the Northwest Division. Ferras also helped send five players to AHL camps, as well as a call up when goaltender Miguel Beaudry made his way to the AHL's Rochester Americans.
Ferras began his coaching career in the 2001-02 season with the Amarillo Rattlers. During the Rattlers' 2001-2002 season, Ferras helped to rebuild Amarillo Professional Hockey and make it one of the most successful small-market programs in the Central Hockey League. He continued by taking over the newly named Amarillo Gorillas, and in four consecutive years he guided them to the playoffs. Only one other coach in CHL history (Terry Ruskowski of the Laredo Bucks) has this accomplishment on his resume. Ferras coached Amarillo in 38 playoff contests including two trips to the CHL Semi-finals before losing to the Laredo Bucks in each of those series.
In 2003-2004, Ferras was the recipient of the Rick Kozuback Award for perseverance and commitment to the game, sport, and business of hockey. In that same year, Ferras was runner-up for the Coach of the Year Award.
Prior to coaching, Ferras enjoyed an excellent playing career that was highlighted by four years at Plattsburgh State University. It was here that he shattered virtually every scoring record, including being named the top scorer in NCAA history-his record still stands today. Ferras was a two-time all-American, and his number was retired by Plattsburgh State University in 2002.
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