In his first season as head coach for the Hershey Bears, former Brock player and coach, Mark French (BA ’96), recently led his team to a 4-0 victory over the Texas Stars to win the American Hockey League (AHL) championship series.
According to the Toronto Sun, “The Bears, the top development team of the Washington Capitals, became the first team to repeat as Calder Cup champions since 1991. It was their third title in the last five years and extended their own league record with their 11th overall championship.”
The team also set a record in the AHL for the number of wins in the regular season – 60 games.
A native of Milton, Ont., French is a graduate of Brock’s Psychology program. While at Brock, he served as assistant captain for the Brock Badgers Men’s Hockey team for three years. He received the prestigious 212 Degrees annual award all four seasons, which is presented to the athlete who demonstrates leadership, commitment and excellence on the ice.
In 1996, French became assistant coach for Brock’s men’s hockey team and by 1997 he took on the role of interim head coach.
French credits his relationship with Brock University and former coach Mike Pelino for influencing his career. “He was a very important mentor for me. He was the first head coach that was a real student of the game and he taught me a lot about coaching. Furthermore, Brock Athletics gave me my first opportunity to be coach and I have a lot of special memories from that time.”
French still keeps in touch with Pelino as well as avid Badger supporter Paul Dwyer and current hockey coach Murray Nystrom.
“We are very proud of Mark’s accomplishments this past season in Hershey, culminating in a Calder Cup Championship,” said Brock head coach Murray Nystrom. “I am sure many of Mark’s former teammates, classmates and the players he coached while at Brock, shared in the excitement of his win!”
Prior to his assistant coaching duties with Hershey, French was the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Wichita Thunder (CHL) from 2005 to 2007. He coached in the ECHL with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies during the 2004-05 season, walking the bench as assistant coach as the Bullies posted a 42-21-9 record. From 2002 to 2004, French was head coach at Wilfrid Laurier University, and from 1999 to 2002, French coached in the OHL as assistant coach and assistant general manager of the North Bay Centennials. In the 1998-99 season he was assistant coach with University of Guelph.
French, 38, becomes the 23rd head coach in Hershey Bears history, succeeding Bob Woods who was promoted to the Washington Capitals last month. He lives in Hershey with his wife Kimberly. They have two children, Ellie (2) and William, who was born during this past Calder Cup winning season. (hersheybears.com)
Other Brock hockey alumni notes:
- Former Brock Badgers captain George Bradley played in six regular season games in 2010 with the Allen Americans who recently lost in the CHL championship finals. On May 17, 2010, Bradley was dealt to the Colorado Eagles (maintaining rookie status in the CHL).
- Former Brock Badgers captain Ryan Del Monte was part of the Cincinnati Cyclones second ECHL championship in three seasons as the Cyclones defeated the Idaho Steelheads 4-1 in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup finals.
- Former Brock hockey coach, Mike Pelino recently accepted the head coach position with the Peterborough Petes, of the Ontario Hockey League. This came after working with the New York Rangers, and last season with San Antonio of the American Hockey League.