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Blashill completes hat trick of National Coach of the Year awards

by Adam Bodnar

April 17, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU hockey coach Jeff Blashill.
Bronco Coach Jeff Blashill
KALAMAZOO--Jeff Blashill, first-year head coach of the Western Michigan University hockey team, was named National Coach of the Year Thursday by U.S. College Hockey Online.

With the selection, Blashill completed a sweep of national honors awarded by the sport's three leading publications. He was earlier named National Coach of the Year by both Inside College Hockey and College Hockey News, sharing the Hockey News honor with Merrimack College's Mark Dennehy.

Blashill led a rejuvenated Bronco hockey team to a 19-13-10 record, a fourth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, an appearance in the CCHA Tournament championship game and the program's fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos boasted the nation's longest unbeaten streak at 14 games and racked up six wins against nationally ranked opponents.

Inheriting a program that had only eight wins and finished last in the CCHA one year ago, Blashill led WMU to a 10-9-9 conference record and its first top-four CCHA finish since the 1995-96 season. He then guided the Broncos to a playoff series win over Ferris State and a trip to the CCHA semifinals for the first time since 1993.

The Broncos went on to defeat regular-season champion Michigan, 5-2, in the semifinals for the program's first trip to the CCHA Tournament championship game since 1986. WMU fell to Miami in the championship game, but earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Under Blashill, freshmen Danny DeKeyser and Chase Balisy were both named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. DeKeyser and Dane Walters were named to the CCHA All-Tournament Team.

A former assistant coach at Miami University, Blashill came to WMU in April 2010 following two years as head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, the top U.S. juniors league.

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