GRAND FORKS — Brad Berry stood outside the visiting locker room in Denver's Magness Arena last March moments after the University of North Dakota's season ended with a first-round National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff loss to the Pioneers.

Berry vowed that in the coming months he would take a look at every aspect of the program to make sure it was performing at an optimal level. He vowed that nothing would be overlooked.

Throughout the summer, he made changes.

Some were big, some were small.

Among them: He hired Karl Goehring as a full-time assistant coach; he brought on board a graduate transfer for the first time ever in Westin Michaud; and he changed practices from mid-afternoons to mornings for the first time.

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All of the changes worked.

It added up to one of the best seasons in program history.

UND, picked to finish fourth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, ended up winning the Penrose Cup as regular-season champions for the third time in six years. The Fighting Hawks were also the No. 1 team in the Pairwise Rankings when the season came to an abrupt end due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

For his role, Berry has been named the national coach of the year by both major national publications — College Hockey News and U.S. College Hockey Online.

Berry led UND to a 26-5-4 record, the fourth-best winning percentage by any UND team.

He led the Fighting Hawks to an 18-1 mark in Ralph Engelstad Arena, the best home record in program history.

These honors could be the first of several for Berry.

He is a finalist for the NCHC Herb Brooks coach of the year award, which will be announced next week.

He also is a strong candidate to win the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year by the AHCA. The last time a UND coach won the award was 2001, when Dean Blais brought home the honor.