Perhaps a “down year” at Miami still is a pretty good year, but Enrico Blasi heard the critics loud and clear anyway coming into this season.
“There are some people in this room that didn’t give us a chance — ever, any weekend,” Blasi said.
2013 NCAA Midwest Regional
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The NCAA championship still won’t be brought to western Ohio this year, but a regular season title and a regional final appearance make Blasi proud, even if he isn’t satisfied.
“This isn’t the end of the world,” Blasi said. “There’s 18 freshmen and sophomores; these two seniors and the senior class did an outstanding job. We won a championship. And we won a CCHA championship, which is hard to win. We got to a regional final, which is not easy to do. And we lost to a great St. Cloud team, too.”
Perspective is important, for while Miami’s eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance ended short of the final goal, the parity of college hockey and the bounce of a simple puck reign supreme. The agony of defeat is called that for a reason, but Blasi saw a bigger, comforting picture Sunday night.
“You know, we’ve been on the other side of things, too,” he said. “I think you need to take the good with the bad. It stings right now — there’s nothing that I can say to these guys right now that is going to make this any better, but on Monday when I design a championship ring for them, and they get one, that’s special.”
It’s the end of the line for several of Miami’s seniors, too. And Blasi had high praise for a group that could be seen as pioneers of Miami’s surge in the last decade.
“This senior class has gone to a Frozen Four, won a Mason Cup, two regular season championships, and been in the national tournament four straight years,” Blasi said. “You tell me why they should feel sorry for themselves. No way. I’m extremely proud of them; they’ve done a heck of a job, and they’ve left our program better.
“We have a statement in the locker room that says you leave the program better than you found it, and guess what, that’s what they did. I’m extremely proud of this group.”
“It was a great ride,” said Steven Spinell. “Starting at the end of last season all through the summer. At the beginning of the year, I think we just came together quickly. It’s been an amazing run and a great group to play with.”
And Blasi knows that his underclassmen have bigger things in mind for the years to come, despite the absence of the seniors next season.
“We’ll get back to work in a couple of weeks, and hopefully we’ll be talking again a year from now, in a better light.”