Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blais Steps Down at Omaha

The hockey coaching carousel continues in the NCAA Division college hockey ranks, three weeks before the season-ending Frozen Four in Chicago.

On March 6, Seth Appert was relieved of his duties after 11 years at Rensselaer. Shortly after, Walt Kyle was dismissed after 15 seasons at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, where he recorded 265 career victories and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010 with the Wildcats. On Monday, Niagara parted ways with Dave Burkholder after 16 years, 247 wins, and three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Tuesday, in perhaps the biggest shock, Dean Blais stated that he is stepping down from the helm after eight years at Nebraska-Omaha. He had one year remaining on his contract at UNO.

Blais, a Minnesota graduate who took North Dakota to two NCAA titles (1997, 2000), went 146-133-30 in his tenure with UNO. His record included two of the Mavericks' three all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Frozen Four berth in 2015. A two-time winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as Division I hockey’s top coach, he also led the U.S. to gold at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.

Omaha concluded its 2016-17 campaign with a 2-1 OT loss to Western Michigan on Sunday to fall, two games to one, in the best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.

Successors to the four aforementioned coaches have yet to be named. Bids to the 16-team 2017 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday.

ADDENDUM: USCHO.com announced on Wednesday that longtime New Hampshire men’s hockey coach Dick Umile will retire after the 2017-18 season, and will be succeeded by associate head coach Mike Souza.

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