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9 Jan 16:  Dean Blais (Omaha - Head Coach). The St. Cloud State University Huskies host the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in a NCHC matchup at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, MN. (Jim Rosvold)
Dean Blais guided Omaha to a 146-133-30 record in eight seasons behind the Mavericks’ bench (photo: Jim Rosvold).

Omaha head coach Dean Blais announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from his position with the team.

“I have been extremely fortunate in my career to work in so many good places with so many people who care about the game of hockey,” said Blais in a statement. “Omaha is one of those places. Our administration, led by (vice chancellor of athletics) Trev Alberts and (associate athletic director) Mike Kemp, have been very supportive during my time as UNO head coach, and our fans are some of the best in college hockey. That’s what has been most important to me in my career – the relationships I have made everywhere I’ve been. My experience in Omaha has been so much fun, assisting Trev and Mike with the moves to two different leagues and the building of Baxter Arena. It was challenging, but all very positive.

“And more than anything else, I have forged so many great relationships with our student-athletes, many of whom have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.  They were great students, and great people.  In the end, that’s what I appreciate the most.  Jackie and I are going to miss Omaha, and we are looking forward to the next chapter.”

“Dean has been a remarkable leader for our hockey program during the last eight seasons, and he leaves it in a more prominent position nationally than when he began here in 2009,” added Alberts.  “Milestones were a regular occurrence on his watch. During his tenure, he led Omaha hockey in a successful transition from the CCHA into what was then the toughest conference in the country, the WCHA. Three years later, he led us through another move into an even tougher conference, the NCHC.  Under Dean’s leadership, we made our first trip to the NCAA Frozen Four, and we opened Baxter Arena.

“For many, that would be a career’s worth of accomplishments, and Dean did that in eight years.”

“His considerable experience and knowledge kept the Mavericks in good hands throughout all of that transition,” said Kemp.  “He continued to prove to be one of the true giants of college hockey coaching, and Omaha Athletics always will be indebted to him.

“As we move forward, Dean will be working with us in the search for his successor. We recognize that we have a strong internal candidate, but we also will be speaking with external candidates in an expedited process to fill the position.  Given all that UNO has to offer and its place in the college hockey landscape, we expect considerable interest in our head coaching position.”

In eight seasons as the Mavericks’ head coach, Blais compiled a record of 146-133-30 and led them to the 2015 Frozen Four.  He had three seasons of 20 or more wins and finished with a record of 17-17-5 in 2016-17.  During four seasons in the NCHC, he led the Mavericks to a pair of third-place finishes and did the same in their first season in the WCHA.  That same year, he was named the WCHA Coach of the Year, the fourth such honor of his career.

Blais has 18 years of experience as a college head coach, having spent 10 years at North Dakota prior to coming to Omaha.  While there, he won two national championships and was twice named the Spencer Penrose Award winner as the national Division I coach of the year.  Altogether, his teams made nine NCAA playoff appearances including two with the Mavericks.

In addition to his decorated college coaching resume, Blais also has considerable international coaching experience.  He led the U.S. National Junior Team to a gold medal at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship and also coached the team in the 1993 and 2012 championships.  He served as an assistant coach for several national teams, including the U.S. Olympic team in 1992.

  • Sparky

    One of the best CH coaches of all time. Thanks for all you have done for the game Dean!

  • Sparky

    One of the best CH coaches of all time. Thanks for all you have done for the game Dean!

  • A Shot and a Goal

    There will be some well-qualified candidates applying for this job. Being a head coach in the NCHC is a top rate position. Blais did a solid job at all his stops.

  • A Shot and a Goal

    There will be some well-qualified candidates applying for this job. Being a head coach in the NCHC is a top rate position. Blais did a solid job at all his stops.

  • PSUPirate

    I’m hoping Guentzel from Minnesota will be Dean’s replacement. He would be a smart replacement. Dean is a classy guy. Had a chance to meet him when his team came out east to play Colgate and we talked about the old WCHA days.

    • Sparky

      I think Guentzel is definitely on Omaha’s short list. I thought Guentzel would replace Lucia…but this scenario did not come to pass. I played against coach Blais in 1979 at his first HC’ing job in Minot, ND. He was intimidating as helll. The young Dean Blais looked a lot like Lucas McCain from The Rifleman….lol.

      • Ray

        Andy Murray’s son preferred playing for coach Blais over being on the opposite side like his dad lol.

        • I’ve earned 104000 dollars in last 12 months by freelancing online a­n­d I did it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g part-time for 3+ hours daily. I’m using an earning model I stumbled upon from this website i found online and I am thrilled that i earned so much money on the side. It’s so user friendly a­n­d I’m so blessed that i found it. This is what i do… http://gee­.­su/f8Sdp

      • PSUPirate

        I found nothing intimidating about Dean. This was right before he guided the US to the WJr. gold. He was an assistant at UND when I was at DU. We talked at length about the good old days. I never expected him to do that. Gentle makes too much sense due to his connection with the program and area. I don’t see Lucia retiring anytime soon.

        • Sparky

          Off the ice, Dean is one of the nicest and most congenial ppl you will meet. He was incredibly popular at UND…and I am sure he was at UNO.

          On the ice, Dean was incredibly tough. There is no question he mellowed through the years, this is common for most coaches. Early on, Dean coached in a very rugged manner. Prior to one game he got on our hometown radio station and told everyone to get out to the game because there could be blood shed that night. How many HS coaches say this? I played in the WCHA the same year Dean went to UND as an assistant. Btw, are you from GF?

          • PSUPirate

            No, from NW Pennsylvania. Graduated from Denver in 1990. Worked in collegiate athletics for 16 years … served as a PR guys for hockey at Colgate and then moved to State College, PA five years ago … have season tickets at PSU. Denver fan; PSU fan; college hockey fan.

          • Sparky

            Ok, thought you might be this kid from GF who was a few years behind me and played at DU.

            I keep waiting to see PSU on UND’s schedule. I think this would be a great series for both schools. Haven’t heard much talk about this, not sure if you have? From what I have seen, PSU plays a similar hard-nosed, gritty game that we are used to seeing at UND and the NCHC. I think there would be decent fan interest at both schools for a home-away series.

          • PSUPirate

            We have some snarl, but are more free flowing then anything. We will throw 40-60 shots on goal per game. Next year should be a big one for PSU. PSU has a very good hockey following. Granted, its not UND or Denver yet, but … I think a home and home would be good thing. PSU will need to bolster its schedule next year a bit in non conference. Absent St. Lawrence and Notre Dame, it was weak.

          • PSUPirate

            By the way, are you talking Dave Hansen as the Grand Forks kid that went to DU?

          • Sparky

            Yes. His mother contacted me about his recruitment….which was a little strange at the time….and this is how I learned about her son. Dave was a big, tough kid and was a solid player at DU. Very nice family. Good guess…I’m impressed. I take it you know him..??

          • PSUPirate

            Dave graduated two years ahead of me. I knew him. He was a member of our Final Four team my freshman season. While he didn’t score many goals, I was a fan. He brought it with huge hits. When I got there and saw he was a Philly draft pick, I laughed and said that is perfect. He was a solid player for us.

          • JCN

            PSU has one of the nicest college hockey arenas in all of college hockey. Your head coach has also done a great job in a very short period of time.

          • PSUPirate

            Pegula Ice Arena is awesome. This is what happens when you have a big time donor like Terry Pegula. The size could have been a bit bigger since the fanbase had really taken in this program with sellouts. Maybe could have gone to 7,100 or something like that. Guy has done a great job. He really has a keen eye for talent. We have our first US Developmental program kid coming in this year. For a program with only two draft picks, we are doing fine.

          • mark

            My wife and I met Dean and he was so nice and talked to us. I followed Dean in North Dakota and he was a winner and his players loved playing for him. I am a gopher fan and my wife a Michigan fan and his players loved to play for him and remember when he lost ot BC for the championship and pulled his goalie twice and early and some how they tied but did lose in ot. His players were down but Dean went over to his players and consoled them and was so proud of them. Actually I was hoping that Minnesota would of hired him when Lucia was having problems and no regionals for 3 years in a row. He did a good job in Omaha even though was tough but did get them to the final four. It is a tough division they are in and would like for them to come to the big ten. Dean will be missed and thank you for all you did for the game of hockey. You are a class act.

          • Sparky

            The entire time Dean was at UND I kept waiting for MN to offer him a contract he couldn’t refuse. There were a number of years where MN had the most talented team in the country, but failed to win a NC. I always wondered how some of those teams would have done with Blaiser at the helm?

  • PSUPirate

    I’m hoping Guentzel from Minnesota will be Dean’s replacement. He would be a smart replacement. Dean is a classy guy. Had a chance to meet him when his team came out east to play Colgate and we talked about the old WCHA days.

    • Sparky

      I think Guentzel is definitely on Omaha’s short list. I thought Guentzel would replace Lucia…but this scenario did not come to pass. I played against coach Blais in 1979 at his first HC’ing job in Minot, ND. He was intimidating as helll. The young Dean Blais looked a lot like Lucas McCain from The Rifleman….lol.

      • Ray

        Andy Murray’s son preferred playing for coach Blais over being on the opposite side like his dad lol.

        • I’ve earned 104000 dollars in last 12 months by freelancing online a­n­d I did it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g part-time for 3+ hours daily. I’m using an earning model I stumbled upon from this website i found online and I am thrilled that i earned so much money on the side. It’s so user friendly a­n­d I’m so blessed that i found it. This is what i do… http://gee­.­su/f8Sdp

      • PSUPirate

        I found nothing intimidating about Dean. This was right before he guided the US to the WJr. gold. He was an assistant at UND when I was at DU. We talked at length about the good old days. I never expected him to do that. Gentle makes too much sense due to his connection with the program and area. I don’t see Lucia retiring anytime soon.

        • Sparky

          Off the ice, Dean is one of the nicest and most congenial ppl you will meet. He was incredibly popular at UND…and I am sure he was at UNO.

          On the ice, Dean was incredibly tough. There is no question he mellowed through the years, this is common for most coaches. Early on, Dean coached in a very rugged manner. Prior to one game he got on our hometown radio station and told everyone to get out to the game because there could be blood shed that night. How many HS coaches say this? I played in the WCHA the same year Dean went to UND as an assistant. Btw, are you from GF?

          • PSUPirate

            No, from NW Pennsylvania. Graduated from Denver in 1990. Worked in collegiate athletics for 16 years … served as a PR guys for hockey at Colgate and then moved to State College, PA five years ago … have season tickets at PSU. Denver fan; PSU fan; college hockey fan.

          • Sparky

            Ok, thought you might be this kid from GF who was a few years behind me and played at DU.

            I keep waiting to see PSU on UND’s schedule. I think this would be a great series for both schools. Haven’t heard much talk about this, not sure if you have? From what I have seen, PSU plays a similar hard-nosed, gritty game that we are used to seeing at UND and the NCHC. I think there would be decent fan interest at both schools for a home-away series.

          • PSUPirate

            We have some snarl, but are more free flowing then anything. We will throw 40-60 shots on goal per game. Next year should be a big one for PSU. PSU has a very good hockey following. Granted, its not UND or Denver yet, but … I think a home and home would be good thing. PSU will need to bolster its schedule next year a bit in non conference. Absent St. Lawrence and Notre Dame, it was weak.

          • PSUPirate

            By the way, are you talking Dave Hansen as the Grand Forks kid that went to DU?

          • Sparky

            Yes. His mother contacted me about his recruitment….which was a little strange at the time….and this is how I learned about her son. Dave was a big, tough kid and was a solid player at DU. Very nice family. Good guess…I’m impressed. I take it you know him..??

          • PSUPirate

            Dave graduated two years ahead of me. I knew him. He was a member of our Final Four team my freshman season. While he didn’t score many goals, I was a fan. He brought it with huge hits. When I got there and saw he was a Philly draft pick, I laughed and said that is perfect. He was a solid player for us.

          • JCN

            PSU has one of the nicest college hockey arenas in all of college hockey. Your head coach has also done a great job in a very short period of time.

          • PSUPirate

            Pegula Ice Arena is awesome. This is what happens when you have a big time donor like Terry Pegula. The size could have been a bit bigger since the fanbase had really taken in this program with sellouts. Maybe could have gone to 7,100 or something like that. Guy has done a great job. He really has a keen eye for talent. We have our first US Developmental program kid coming in this year. For a program with only two draft picks, we are doing fine.

          • mark

            My wife and I met Dean and he was so nice and talked to us. I followed Dean in North Dakota and he was a winner and his players loved playing for him. I am a gopher fan and my wife a Michigan fan and his players loved to play for him and remember when he lost ot BC for the championship and pulled his goalie twice and early and some how they tied but did lose in ot. His players were down but Dean went over to his players and consoled them and was so proud of them. Actually I was hoping that Minnesota would of hired him when Lucia was having problems and no regionals for 3 years in a row. He did a good job in Omaha even though was tough but did get them to the final four. It is a tough division they are in and would like for them to come to the big ten. Dean will be missed and thank you for all you did for the game of hockey. You are a class act.

          • Sparky

            The entire time Dean was at UND I kept waiting for MN to offer him a contract he couldn’t refuse. There were a number of years where MN had the most talented team in the country, but failed to win a NC. I always wondered how some of those teams would have done with Blaiser at the helm?

  • Ray

    College hockey news just reported yesterday that Blais was returning next year, especially with how much he was owed and the amount UNO will have to spend to find a replacement. What a quick change.

    • Sparky

      When Trev Alberts left UNO many thought this would be Dean’s last year.

      • Deep Throat

        Trev Alberts was and still is the Athletic Director at UNO. What are you talking about?

        • Sparky

          I’m sorry, I meant to say the new president of the university….I think he came on board in 2015. According to ppl I spoke with, Dean was not thrilled with the new leadership at UNO with respect to the hockey program.

          • Deep Throat

            Actually, it’s Chancellor John Christensen who is retiring/stepping down on an undetermined date in the middle of this year. If Blais is unhappy
            about anything, its that the school doesn’t intend to offer full cost of attendance scholarships for hockey, despite initially saying they would do so. That’s what happens when you underestimate the revenue projection stream in your brand new arena by about 2 million dollars the first year and end up with a 1.5 million dollar deficit, instead. And now, on top of that, this season Omaha’s attendance fell by a full thousand people per game.

            He has expressed concern about who might replace Christensen and whether that individual would be as supportive of hockey as Christensen was but I think it is pretty hard for him to be unhappy about new leadership that has yet to exist. You have to wait until you are hurt before you holler in pain.

          • Sparky

            Thanks.

    • gimruis

      I saw that report too. Obviously there are contradicting stories here. Fake news?

      • Deep Throat

        Nope, that WAS what Blais said yesterday to the press in Omaha. Controverted by what happened today. Read the Omaha World Herald coverage of this story for clarification which also mentions that Trev Alberts met with Blais today after returning from some out of town engagement last night.

  • Ray

    College hockey news just reported yesterday that Blais was returning next year, especially with how much he was owed and the amount UNO will have to spend to find a replacement. What a quick change.

    • Sparky

      When Trev Alberts left UNO many thought this would be Dean’s last year.

      • Deep Throat

        Trev Alberts was and still is the Athletic Director at UNO. What are you talking about?

        • Sparky

          I’m sorry, I meant to say the new president of the university….I think he came on board in 2015. According to ppl I spoke with, Dean was not thrilled with the new leadership at UNO with respect to the hockey program.

          • Deep Throat

            Actually, it’s Chancellor John Christensen who is retiring/stepping down on an undetermined date in the middle of this year. If Blais is unhappy
            about anything, its that the school doesn’t intend to offer full cost of attendance scholarships for hockey, despite initially saying they would do so. That’s what happens when you underestimate the revenue projection stream in your brand new arena by about 2 million dollars the first year and end up with a 1.5 million dollar deficit, instead. And now, on top of that, this season Omaha’s attendance fell by a full thousand people per game.

            He has expressed concern about who might replace Christensen and whether that individual would be as supportive of hockey as Christensen was but I think it is pretty hard for him to be unhappy about new leadership that has yet to exist. You have to wait until you are hurt before you holler in pain.

          • Sparky

            Thanks.

    • gimruis

      I saw that report too. Obviously there are contradicting stories here. Fake news?

      • Deep Throat

        Nope, that WAS what Blais said yesterday to the press in Omaha. Controverted by what happened today. Read the Omaha World Herald coverage of this story for clarification which also mentions that Trev Alberts met with Blais today after returning from some out of town engagement last night.

  • gimruis

    Omaha has only made it past the first round of the playoffs once since 2005. That dates back to playing in the CCHA, WCHA, and now the NCHC. Although his credentials were solid at North Dakota, obviously Omaha isn’t quite the same and the lack of late season success there likely played a role in this departure.

  • gimruis

    Omaha has only made it past the first round of the playoffs once since 2005. That dates back to playing in the CCHA, WCHA, and now the NCHC. Although his credentials were solid at North Dakota, obviously Omaha isn’t quite the same and the lack of late season success there likely played a role in this departure.

  • Denver_hockey

    Nothing against the Omaha program, but it’s a little different than North Dakota. Definitely saw this coming from one side or the other. I never thought he was a great fit at Omaha. I really don’t see Omaha getting anybody better than him though and see some bottom half finishes in their future.

  • Denver_hockey

    Nothing against the Omaha program, but it’s a little different than North Dakota. Definitely saw this coming from one side or the other. I never thought he was a great fit at Omaha. I really don’t see Omaha getting anybody better than him though and see some bottom half finishes in their future.