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Niagara’s Burkholder a finalist for top college hockey coaching honor

Niagara’s Dave Burkholder is one of seven finalists for the Spencer Penrose Award, given annually to the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Coach of the Year, the American Hockey Coaches Association announced Wednesday.

To be a finalist, a coach must be given his league’s coach of the year award or lead his team to the Frozen Four.

In Burkholder’s 12th year as head coach, Niagara (23-10-5) earned its fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament to become the first-ever Atlantic Hockey team to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Burkholder, who reached the 200th win plateau this season, was honored as AHA Coach of the Year after capturing the AHA Hockey regular-season title.

The award is named in memory of the Colorado Springs benefactor who built the Broadmoor Hotel Complex, site of the first ten NCAA championship hockey tournaments. The winner will be announced next Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Other finalists are: Keith Allain, Yale; Norm Bazin, UMass-Lowell; Enrico Blasi, Miami (Ohio); Mike Hastings, Minnesota State; Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State; Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac.