Roy Sommer, San Jose Barracudas, Head Coach
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San Jose Barracuda Head Coach Roy Sommer, who plays a major role in developing players for the San Jose Sharks, is currently the longest-tenured coach in the American Hockey League.
The Oakland native finished his 18th season behind the bench of San Jose’s top development affiliate and his 20th season overall with the Sharks organization. In his 18 seasons as head coach, Sommer has compiled a 648-589-48-68-59 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record in the regular season and has reached the postseason nine times, including reaching the Calder Cup playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
The San Jose Sharks dressed 20 players during the 2015-16 season that developed under Sommer’s tutelage. In fact, 38 players have made their NHL debuts with the Sharks over the last ten seasons -- including Justin Braun, Matt Tennyson, Dylan DeMelo, Tommy Wingels, and Melker Karlsson.
Roy Sommer surpassed Frank Mathers (1,256 games coached) for the most games coached in AHL history on March 26, 2014 in Worcester’s 5-3 victory in Lewiston, ME over the Portland Pirates. Sommer has coached 1412 AHL games – all with the SJ Sharks AHL affiliates. In total, he has been a head coach in 1,746 games in the AHL and ECHL. Last season, coach Sommer surpassed Hockey Hall of Famer Fred “Bun” Cook (636 wins) for the most wins in AHL history with his 637th win on February 10, 2016 in a 4-2 victory over the Ontario Reign at SAP Center.
In 2009-10, Sommer led the Worcester Sharks to a franchise record 49 wins and captured the regular season Atlantic Division title. After nine seasons in Worcester, MA (2006-15); Sommer moved with the franchise to San Jose, CA to coach the Barracuda during the 2015-16 season.
As head coach for San Jose’s top development team, Sommer has coached 95 players who’ve spent time in the National Hockey League, including forward Logan Couture, who was named 2010-11 PlayStation “Sharks Rookie of the Year.”
Sommer, 59, began coaching San Jose’s top development affiliates in 1998-99 with the AHL’s Kentucky Thoroughblades. He coached the T-Blades for three seasons before San Jose relocated their AHL team to Cleveland.
In his first season with Kentucky, the Thoroughblades registered franchise records for most regular season wins (44), most road wins (21) and total points (98) in a season while posting the AHL’s fifth-best record. This success came despite having 17 players promoted to the NHL during the season.
From 1999-2001, Sommer’s club went 84-50-21-5 to capture two consecutive Mid-Atlantic Division titles and went to the Calder Cup Playoffs each season. Sommer’s success was recognized during the 1999-00 season with his selection as the head coach for the Canadian All-Star Team, where his squad toppled PlanetUSA, 8-3. Before being named head coach of the Thoroughblades in 1998, Sommer spent two seasons (1996-98) as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks. With San Jose, Sommer was responsible for pre-scouting upcoming opponents for their offensive and defensive tendencies, line combinations and special teams’ tactics. In addition, he assisted in running practices and provided special on-ice extended workouts with scratched players and those rehabilitating injuries.
Before Sommer joined San Jose, he was head coach of the ECHL’s Richmond Renegades from 1991-96 and was named 1995-96 Coach of the Year after leading his team to a league best 46-11-13 mark and a league record 105 points in capturing the Brabham Cup (best regular season record). Sommer led the Renegades to the Riley Cup (league championship) in 1994-95 after posting a 41-20-7 regular season record. In addition, he served as head coach of the ECHL’s East All-Star Team in 1994-95 and the North All-Star Team in 1995-96.
Sommer’s additional ice hockey coaching experience includes assistant coaching stints with the Albany Choppers and Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League and working with USA Hockey as an assistant coach at several evaluation camps for 16- and 17-year-old players.
In 1998, he served as head coach and general manager for the silver-medal winning Team USA (4-1-0 record) at the International Ice Hockey Federation In-Line Hockey World Championships in Anaheim. Sommer’s squads won gold medals in each of the first two tournaments (1996 in St. Paul, Minn. and 1997 in Anaheim) and posted undefeated records each year. His three-year coaching mark at this prestigious tournament stands at 17-1-0.
The former Bay Area youth hockey player coached Roller Hockey International’s San Jose Rhinos for three seasons (1994-96), including capturing the Murphy Cup (league championship) in 1995. In addition, Sommer served as head coach for RHI’s 1996 Western Conference All-Star Team.
Before stepping behind the bench, Sommer played nine seasons of professional ice hockey. A sixth round selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977, Sommer played in the Leafs system as well as those of the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. The highlight of Sommer’s NHL career came during the 1980-81 season when, as a teammate of Wayne Gretzky, Sommer scored a goal in his NHL debut with the
Sommer was captain of the Wichita Wind from 1980-83 and again with Muskegon in 1986-87. Sommer, who played left wing and center, was a member of the AHL Calder Cup Champion Maine Mariners in 1983-84 and helped lead Muskegon to the 1985-86 IHL title (Turner Cup). He played his junior hockey for the Spruce Grove Mets, which won the 1975 Centennial Cup, and for the Calgary Centennials. Sommer was a member of the United States National Team at the World Junior Championships in 1976-77.
Roy resides in San Jose, CA. with his wife Melissa and their eldest son, Marley. They have 2 other children, Castan and Kira. Kira is attending George Washington University as a journalism and Mass communications major; Castan graduated this year from The College of the Holy Cross where he played for the Division 1 Holy Cross Crusaders hockey team for all 4 years. While Marley is not a hockey player himself, he works alongside Roy as the locker room attendant for the San Jose Barracuda, and is a huge fan of both the Sharks and Barracuda teams. Marley, 24, is autistic, has Down syndrome and may be one of the most popular and recognizable faces within the Sharks organization. Coach Sommer has made it his mission to include Marley within the fabric of the Sharks organization since Marley has been an inspiration to the players and staff throughout the years. Roy is a regular volunteer for the Special Olympics. He and his wife, Melissa organized a Special Olympics club Floor Hockey team when they lived in Kentucky, and Coach Sommer often organized practices and scrimmages for the East Coach Jumbos hockey team (a special needs hockey team in New England) while the Sharks AHL affiliate played in Worcester, MA. Coach Sommer speaks publicly to community organizations and the press regarding Marley and his connection to the hockey team. Roy and Marley have been featured in several national publications including The NY Times and The Hockey News. Roy and his wife Melissa work hard to promote vocational and recreational opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities in whatever community they live in. When Marley is not working in the locker room or attending pro hockey events, he attends the Greater Opportunities Day Program in San Jose.
Chris Beehler, Executive Director
P.O. Box 3411
Crofton, Maryland 21114