The Fresno Monsters won the Pacific Division Championship against the Las Vegas Thunderbirds during their inaugural season in the United States Premier Hockey League and will advance to the Premier National Championship tournament which begins on Thursday, in Chesapeake, VA. They will play in Pool ‘D’ along with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, the Midwest West No. 1 seed, and Great Lakes Division No. 2 seed.
Behind the team's success, is the youngest Head Coach in franchise history and former star player of the Fresno Monsters - Cody Key.
Cody was born in 1997 and grew up playing junior hockey in Fresno, CA in the now-defunct Fresno Falcons system which was often coached by former Falcon players. In 2015, Cody was drafted by the Helena Bighorns in the NA3HL draft before deciding to play for the Cheyenne Stampede in the Western States Hockey League.
After a successful season with the Stampede where he had notched 16 goals and 30 assists, Cody returned to Fresno to play for the hometown team in the WSHL; the Fresno Monsters. Under Head Coach Bryce Dale, Cody had another breakout season where he scored 20 goals and 25 assists.
The following two seasons under Head Coach Kevin Kaminski (2016-2018), Cody Key would be named Captain of the Monsters for both. In his two seasons as Captain, Cody scored 85 goals and 143 assists. In his last season in the Western States Hockey League, he would set the league and franchise record for All-Time Assists Per Season (86).
After his final season playing for the Fresno Monsters, Head Coach Kevin Kaminski invited him to join him on the bench as Assistant Coach. This would be Cody's first time trading in his skates and gloves for a suit and tie. Though the Monsters lost the division finals during the 2018-19' season they still amassed a winning record of W: 31 L: 16 OTW: 3 OTL: 1.
Shortly after, Kevin Kaminski left the Fresno Monsters and returned to his hometown in Canada while Cody Key decided to focus on his family after the birth of his first child.
In the summer of 2019, it was announced that the Fresno Monsters would be leaving the Western States Hockey League and join the United States Premier Hockey League to form the foundation of the Pacific Divison. Shortly after, it was announced that Cody Key would be taking over as Head Coach of the Fresno Monsters making him the youngest Head Coach in franchise history at the age of 23.
Cody announced shortly after that he would be naming former Monsters' star players Artem Verbenko (24yr old), Mark Shroyer (25yr old), and Daylon Mannon (22yr old) as his assistant coaches to form the youngest coaching staff in league history. Many called this a risky move at the beginning, citing the coaching staff's inexperience having only just finished playing juniors and college themselves but a move that would ultimately pay off for the Monsters as they would go on to have a winning record of W: 30 L:10 OTL: 1 SOL: 1 and win the Pacific Division Championship.