Ice Wolves’ Fox named NAHL Coach of the Year, owner Hubbard chosen top executive
The North American Hockey League has announced that Phil Fox of the New Mexico Ice Wolves is the 2021-22 NAHL Coach of the Year and team owner Stan Hubbard has been named the 2021-22 NAHL Executive of the Year.
The coach of the year selection is based on performance during the 2021-22 regular season as voted on by the league’s 29 head coaches. while the Executive of the Year was voted on by the league’s 29 owners and governors.
In his third season behind the Ice Wolves bench, Fox earns his first career Coach of the Year Award in the NAHL. The 36-year-old led the Ice Wolves to a franchise-record 38 wins during the regular season and a second-place finish in the South Division. In addition, six Ice Wolves players to date have made NCAA commitments. Fox was also the head coach of the South Division team at the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.
Hubbard, who is the owner and governor of the Ice Wolves, continues to have more organizational success in 2021-22. The team recorded its most wins ever in a season and last November, Hubbard welcomed the U.S. Women’s National Team to Albuquerque to train ahead of the Winter Olympics. That time included exhibition games against the Ice Wolves. In April, Hubbard and the Ice Wolves raised $53,285 for the Feed My Starving Children organization to provide 220,020 meals for Ukrainians impacted by the war.
“Congratulations to every player and organization recognized across the league today,” said Hubbard. “We want to give a special congratulations to Phil for his Coach of the Year honor. We are proud to have him in our organization and we are all lucky to have him in our community leading our players in their development, both on and off the ice. While I am certainly proud of the Executive of the Year honor it’s one shared with the entire organization from the coaches and players to staff and volunteers as well as our marketing partners and most of all our fans who have embraced us so well this season.”
A native of Stillwater, Minn., Fox has rich hockey history including playing in the NAHL during his junior career and playing for Northern Michigan University followed by four years of professional hockey. Fox had previously coached two seasons as head coach of the Ice Wolves Bantam A team while helping with youth teams at every level in addition to being vice president of the New Mexico Ice Hockey Foundation and director of hockey for Outpost Ice Arenas. Prior to that, Fox spent the 2016-17 season as assistant coach of the Stillwater Ponies high school varsity team and director of player development for the Stillwater Area Hockey Association in Minnesota. Before coaching in Stillwater, Fox spent two years as the director of hockey Operations at Northern Michigan University.
Before his coaching career, Fox played four years of professional hockey first with the Central Hockey League’s Texas Brahmas and the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros before returning to the CHL to play for the Allen Americans, helping them win the Ray Miron President’s Cup two years in a row, marking just the third time in CHL history that a team had won back-to-back league titles.
Before playing professionally, Fox played for Northern Michigan from 2007-11 with three of those years as captain and recording 65 points (40 goals and 25 assists). With 155 games under his belt, Fox ranks 21st in Northern Michigan hockey history for games played.
Fox started his junior hockey career with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL in 2003 and then spent two years in the NAHL with the Fargo Moorhead Jets.
The coaching and executive honors come a day after the team was named the NAHL South Division Organization of the Year and forward Dillan Bentley named to the All-South Division Team. The divisional teams and honors represent the four divisions in the NAHL – Central, East, Midwest and South, with the divisional teams voted on and selected by the league’s 29 head coaches and the other division honors voted by the members of the league’s board of governors. The awards are based on performance during the 2021-22 regular season.
This was the second time in team history the Ice Wolves were named the South Division Organization of the Year honor after being given the honor in the team’s inaugural season in 2019-20.
Bentley joined the Ice Wolves for a single game in the team’s inaugural 2019-2020 season. In Bentley’s first full season with the team in 2020-21, he tallied 10 goals and 13 assists in 54 games. His 23 points were sixth among Ice Wolves players. In the 2021-22 season, Bentley was named a team captain and has played in 58 games, racking up 64 points on 30 goals and 34 assists. Bentley has committed to UMass Lowell (Hockey East, NCAA Division I) and is among the six Ice Wolves players from the 2021-22 season who are committed to playing NCAA D-I or D-III hockey next year.
Photos/New Mexico Ice Wolves
(May 6, 2022)