The hometown coach will get the task of defending his nation’s gold medal.
North Dakota coach Dean Blais was named head coach of the 2005 U.S. National Junior Team, which will compete in the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 25, 2004-Jan. 4-2005. The U.S. will be defending the gold medal it just won on home soil, with the tournament being hosted in Grand Forks, N.D., and Thief River Falls, Minn.
This is the second time Blais will be head coach for the National Junior Team, following 1994.
In addition, USA Hockey named the two assistant coaches, Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin and U.S. National Under-17 Team head coach David Quinn. Sandelin is a former assistant under Blais at North Dakota.
“USA Hockey is extremely proud to name these three individuals to the coaching staff for the 2005 U.S. National Junior Team, which will have the unique honor and challenge of defending a gold medal on home ice,” said USA Hockey Executive Director Doug Palazzari. “Dean Blais is one of the most respected and successful coaches in all of college hockey, and a longtime member of the USA Hockey family. His association with the University of North Dakota, and the fact that the IIHF World Junior Championship is being hosted in Grand Forks, also makes for a special connection to the event.”
Said Blais, who is leading the nation’s No. 1-ranked team into this weekend’s WCHA Final Five, “Being named head coach of the United States National Junior Hockey Team is a great honor. My experience with USA Hockey will help me prepare for the tournament with great anticipation and high expectations.”
Blais has previously been assistant coach with the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team, and assistant coach with the 1987 and 1988 U.S. Junior National Teams. The two-time NCAA national champion, Blais has the best winning percentage among active coaches in Division I hockey, and is in his 10th season as head coach of the Sioux. In 2001 Blais was named WCHA Coach of the Year for the third time (1997 and 1999). On the national level, Blais was awarded the 2001 Spencer Penrose Award as the nation’s top collegiate coach for the second time by the American Hockey Coaches Association, also earning the award in 1997.
Blais played four seasons at Minnesota, where he was named WCHA Rookie of the Year in 1970 and was an NCAA All-Tournament selection in 1971. He played for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1973 before beginning a three-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks’ affiliate in Dallas.
Sandelin is in his fourth year behind the at Duluth. As of March 18, UMD owned a 25-11-4 record, and most recently defeated Minnesota State University-Mankato in a best-of-three series to advance to the semifinals in the WCHA Final Five. Before becoming a coach, Sandelin spent four years playing at North Dakota. In 1985-86, his senior season, he was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. He captained the Fighting Sioux squad that season and was an All-WCHA first-team pick and an All-American second-team selection. Sandelin went on to play seven years of professional hockey, including NHL stints with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars. He was the second-round pick of the Canadiens in the 1982 NHL Draft, and the 40th overall selection. Sandelin also skated for Team USA at the 1984 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 1986 IIHF World Championship and the 1989 Goodwill Games.
Prior to his role with the NTDP, Quinn spent six seasons as the top assistant coach and head recruiter for Nebraska-Omaha. Before his time at Nebraska-Omaha, Quinn was the top assistant at Northeastern. As a player, Quinn was a member of the U.S. National Junior Team that captured a bronze medal at the 1986 IIHF World Junior Championship. He skated with Boston University from 1985 to 1988 as a defenseman, receiving All-Hockey East and All-Hockey East Tournament honors. Quinn also played two seasons of minor professional hockey after being selected in the first round, 13th overall, in the 1984 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars.