Blue Devils’ Meredith named SUNYAC Coach of the Year
Special to The OBSERVER
Jeff Meredith today was named 2017-18 SUNYAC Men’s Hockey Coach of the Year.
In a season which saw him surpass the 400-win plateau, Meredith guided the Blue Devils to a 13-11-4 final record, including road wins in the SUNYAC Tournament over Plattsburgh and Oswego before falling to Geneseo in last Saturday’s championship game. He did so without placing a single player on the 18-member SUNYAC All-Conference Team. Instead, the Blue Devils — seeded No. 5 in the conference tournament — relied on balanced scoring (they had 11 players with 10 or more points) and timely goaltending.
It was Meredith’s third SUNYAC Coach of the Year Award (the others came in 1990-91 and 1993-94) and his team’s seventh championship game appearance in his 30-season tenure.
“It’s obviously a really nice honor,” he said upon learning of the award, “but I think anyone who knows about teams and organizations, it’s not about one person, it’s about a lot of people.”
Meredith had high praise for his assistant coach, Mike Lysyj, a former SUNY Cortland player who’s been with the Fredonia program the last four years. “He’s just an amazing young coach,” Meredith said. “His hockey knowledge is off the charts. Much of the success we had this year is directly related to Mike. I’ve been nothing but impressed with him. I’ve been fortunate to have great, young assistants. Mike is at the top of the pile.”
In turn, Lysyj said Meredith has managed to make a connection with this generation of players. “A lot of credit goes to Jeff,” Lysyj said, “for adapting to some changes that we made and that the players were asking for. He’s always done a great job of communicating with them and listening to their opinions, and then taking those opinions and translating them into something useful.”
“I’m different (than back in the ’90s),” Meredith said of his ability to adapt, “in that I don’t have to control everything, I don’t have to run everything. That’s the beauty of having great, young coaches to work with.”
New to the staff this year was volunteer assistant Scott Bradley. A former player for Meredith, Bradley was a member of Fredonia’s 2007 SUNYAC championship team which won all three of its playoff games on the road.
In addition to breaking down game film and helping out where he could, Bradley was able to share his experience as a player with this year’s team.
“Brads … was a connection for our guys to the championship team in 2007,” Meredith said. “I think our guys having that connection probably helped us along the way. They saw somebody who won a championship, somebody who kind of traveled the same path they did. Scott Bradley is a big part of this.”
Meredith credited his players with being open to all the coaching. “Nobody is successful by themselves,” he said. “Obviously we achieved a certain level of success in the post-season. That was because we had guys who bought in. They were focused and they were determined and confident.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Meredith spent a good part of Monday working the phones in search of his next class of recruits.
“I think yesterday he Facetimed with three families,” Lysyj said. “He’s consistently working and communicating with kids to get them to come here. He does a phenomenal job with that and I’ve learned so much the last four years. It’s definitely a well-deserved award. He puts in a lot of hours here. I appreciate all the work he’s done for me, too.”