Boys’ coach of the year

MATT COTTINGHAM

North Branch hockey

Why he won: New coaches rebuild programs all the time. Resuscitation is something special. Since taking over North Branch in 2013, Cottingham breathed life into a stagnant program. Back then, some players had never experienced organized hockey. Others didn’t own skates or equipment. This season, the Vikings got up early for 5:15 a.m. practices at a rink 14 miles from town. And they made their Class 1A tournament debut. Cottingham still welcomes inexperienced players. And he spent his own money on players’ skates.

What he said: Cottingham wasn’t daunted by the rebuilding project, a testament to his players. “The kids make you forget all the records and stats or whatever. And you realize why you start coaching. And that’s the kids. They made me fall in love with coaching.”