College Hockey:
USA Hockey turns to Blais again to coach World Junior team

— USA Hockey is turning to one of its golden World Junior Championship coaches to lead the 2012 team.

Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais will take charge of the U.S. team in hopes of bringing home a second gold medal from the tournament in three years.

Dean Blais speaks to the media after being named the 2012 USA Hockey World Junior team coach. (Jim Rosvold)

Dean Blais will coach the U.S. World Junior team for the second time in three years (photo: Jim Rosvold).

In 2010, Blais led the Americans to the championship in Canada. The 2012 tournament also will be on Canadian soil, in Calgary and Edmonton.

The similarities will undoubtedly lead to high expectations, but Blais and USA Hockey personnel are happy to hear that.

“The players will be different but the attitudes will be the same,” Blais said. “We’re there to be successful. We’re not there to be intimidated. We’re not there to put on a show. We’re there to play hockey and try to win a medal.”

Blais is expecting to bring the same coaching staff to Alberta, and the team again will be led by general manager Jim Johannson.

“We go into these championships expecting to win, but we have a great appreciation of our opponents and we also have a great appreciation for everything it takes to win this championship,” Johannson said. “It’s OK to have swagger, but you’ve got to back it up on the ice.”

The Americans won the bronze medal under Yale coach Keith Allain this season, marking the first back-to-back medals for the U.S. in tournament history.

The U.S. also won the 2004 tournament under Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves.

Blais is in a holding pattern with his Nebraska-Omaha team, which is practicing back home while it awaits its NCAA tournament fate.

He’ll have to leave his Mavericks team for a few weeks over the winter break to lead the Americans. Assistants Mike Guentzel and Mike Hastings will lead UNO in that period, Blais said.

Johannson said USA Hockey was looking for a coach that was familiar with the tournament, had a past record of success and could understand coaching the players that can compete in the under-20 tournament.

Blais hit the mark on all, he said.

“To have the experience that he has at the championship, because you cannot control everything that happens, from injuries to bad calls to bad bounces in the game. Dean’s got the experience to handle all of those things,” Johannson said. “And he manages a team during this event where kids have to earn their ice time.”

Blais said he ranks the 2010 gold above his national championships at North Dakota and his Minnesota high school titles at Roseau in his coaching accomplishments.

“There’s nothing like being there on the ice when that flag is raised at the end of the game and your national anthem is played,” Blais said. “That final game, when we won the gold medal, to look up and see the United States flag right in the middle, between Canada and Sweden, was something I’ll never forget. It’s fun.”

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  • #1 Ranked

    Does that mean he’ll be leaving UNO?? Later on, that also means he’ll be looking for another coaching position at another major D-1 school? Hmmmmm……

    • MavFan

      No he will not be leaving UNO. He will just be away from the team during world juniors like 2010.

  • eaglefan06

    Thank god! Allain was terrible this year.

    • HarborYards

      too bad that Hakstol didn’t win the Graham James Award this year as the college hockey coach you least want to leave your kids with. When confronted with this criticism, Hakstol said he was bothered and when asked why he said he couldn’t “put his finger” on it. He also lamented about the suspension of Jim Tressel and said what’s the big deal, not like he turns a blind eye and lets all his players get drunk and frostbitten, get into bar brawls and DUI. He also said that sometimes, when a player is as good as Frattin is, you have to bend the rules. He also complained about interference from administrators who bother the students with expectations of attending class. He noted that many of his distinguished players are geography majors, and “it’s really hard finding state capitals, you know. Some of my players are only 22 when they come to school.”

  • Cool Hand

    Great choice for Head Coach for the USA Junior Team! Hopeful Team USA will bring home the Gold. U S A ! ! !

  • Anonymous

    Wait! What?

    The same Dean Blais that isn’t up for a “Starzie” as Coach of the Year?

    Just another reason that entire article was absurdly ridiculous. USCHO needs a LOT better writers and they really need to be smarter than the fans using their site, which, by and large, they aren’t.

  • Ryan gargiulo

    Good news this guy is a good coach that knows how to win,here is quote from dean on the 2010 team “we dont need no fancy dans” just one of the reasons they won gold that year..

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