Sandelin Replaces Blais as Junior Coach

Scott Sandelin, who was earlier named the assistant coach of the 2004-05 U.S. World Junior Championships team, has been named to replace Dean Blais as head coach. Blais resigned from the position last week after recently leaving his job as head coach at North Dakota for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place this year Dec. 25, 2004-Jan. 4, 2005 in Grand Forks, N.D. and Thief River Falls, Minn.

Mike Hastings (Omaha, Neb.), head coach and general manager of the United States Hockey League’s River City Lancers, was named assistant coach in Sandelin’s place. David Quinn, who recently left the National Development Program to become an assistant at his alma mater Boston University, is the team’s other assistant.

“While it is unfortunate that Dean will not be able to serve as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team due to his new responsibilities with the Columbus Blue Jackets, we are excited for him and his decision to move to the National Hockey League,” said USA Hockey Executive Director Doug Palazzari. “Scott’s impressive career as both an assistant and head coach in college hockey has propelled him to the top of his profession, making him an easy choice to take over for Dean.”

Sandelin recently completed his fourth year as head coach for Minnesota-Duluth. In 2003-04 Sandelin led the Bulldogs to a 28-13-4 record, finishing second in the WCHA regular season before advancing to the Frozen Four. For his effortrs, Sandelin was named the 2003-04 Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year.

Prior to joining Minnesota-Duluth, Sandelin served as Blais’ assistant at North Dakota for three seasons, from 1997-98 to 1999-2000. During his tenure in Grand Forks, Sandelin helped the Fighting Sioux claim two NCAA titles, three WCHA regular-season championships and two WCHA playoff crowns.

Sandelin spent the 1993-94 season as head coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Junior Kings of the Junior Elite Hockey League, after doubling as the head coach and general manager of the American Hockey Association’s Fargo-Moorhead Express.

Before embarking on his coaching career, Sandelin spent four years playing NCAA Division I hockey 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 that season and was an All-WCHA first-team and All-America second-team selection.

Sandelin went on to play seven years of professional hockey, including stints in the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars. He was the second-round pick of the Canadiens in the 1982 NHL Entry 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 1990 Goodwill Games.

Hastings recently completed his 10th year as head coach and general manager of the Lancers. During that time he has won more games in the USHL than any other coach, including the 2003-04 season, in which he guided the Lancers to a 37-17-5 record, and a third-place finish in the conference. In his tenure the Lancers have won the 2001-02 Anderson Cup, Clark Cup titles in the 1997-98 and 2000-01 seasons, and a USA Hockey Junior A National Championship in 2001.

The Crookston, Minn., native played two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Austin Mavericks (1984-85) and the Rochester Mustangs (1985-86) before moving on to St. Cloud State.

Hastings was named both “USHL Coach of the Year” and “USHL General Manager of the Year” in 2000-01. He also captured both awards following the 1996-97 season. His winning percentage of .725 is the highest in league history.

Sandelin and the coaching staff will conduct the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp from Aug. 8-15 in Grand Forks. Seven members of the 2004 U.S. National Junior Team are eligible to return next season. Team USA posted a 6-0-0 record and earned the first gold medal for the United States in the 28-year history of the event at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland.