April 3, 2012 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Southern Professional Hockey League on Tuesday announced that Jeff Bes of the Mississippi Surge has been selected as the SBK Coach of the Year in a vote of coaches and media representatives.
In one of the closest votes in league history, Columbus's Jerome Bechard finished second in the voting while Augusta's Brad Ralph was third.
In his first season as a head coach, Bes led the Surge to a 29-24-3 record in what was considered by many to be a rebuilding year. Under his guidance, the Surge tied the league record for fewest shorthanded goals allowed in a season (1, set by Macon in 2004-05).
Bes stepped behind the bench last August after spending the previous eight seasons with the Laredo Bucks, leading them to two Central Hockey League championships and a total of four appearances in the finals. He retired as the Bucks all-time leading scorer, having earned regular season MVP honors in 2003-04 and 2007-08 and was the 2006 playoff MVP. Drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the third round (58th overall) of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Bes also played for Team Canada in the 1993 World Junior Hockey Championship, winning the gold medal for a team that included future NHL stars Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya. This is his second tour of duty in Biloxi, having played 23 games for the East Coast Hockey League's Mississippi Sea Wolves in 2001-02.
SPHL Coach of the Year Award Winners
2011-12 - Jeff Bes, Mississippi Surge
2010-11 - Brad Ralph, Augusta RiverHawks
2009-10 - Steffon Walby, Mississippi Surge
2008-09 - Scott Hillman, Knoxville Ice Bears
2007-08 - Rick Allain, Jacksonville Barracudas
2006-07 - John Marks, Fayetteville FireAntz
2005-06 - Jerome Bechard, Columbus Cottonmouths
2004-05 - Derek Booth, Fayetteville FireAntz
The SPHL will announce its Most Valuable Player on Wednesday.