Western Michigan University today named Jeff Blashill, the General Manager and Coach of the USHL Indiana Ice, as head coach for the Bronco men's hockey team. Blashill, whose team is reigning USHL Clark Cup champion, has spent the last two seasons at the helm of Indiana's entry in North America's premier junior hockey league.
"I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the Western Michigan Broncos hockey team and begin our quest to establish Western as an elite NCAA Division I program," said Blashill. "I'd like to thank WMU President John Dunn, Director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard, the athletic department staff, and all those I've met while visiting Kalamazoo for the trust they've placed in me to pursue this great challenge."
In just his first season behind the bench in the USHL in 2008-09, Blashill guided the Ice to their first-ever Clark Cup title, after earning a regular season record of 39-19-2 record. The team's 39 victories tied them with Green Bay for the season high in wins. The Ice, seeded third in the East Division, defeated the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, the Green Bay Gamblers, and the Fargo Force on the way to the USHL champion's circle.
"I would also like to thank the many great people that represent the USHL, beginning with Indiana Ice owners Paul and Cindy Skjodt, our great staff, and the Ice players who have given so much to this organization," said Blashill. "A special thanks also to USHL Commissioner Skip Prince and his outstanding staff for their great leadership. Finally, thanks to the great coaches of the USHL, whom I have enjoyed competing against and learning from over the past two seasons."
Blashill's team has again qualified for the playoffs this season after posting a 33-24-3 record. He will lead the Ice as they open the 2010 Clark Cup playoffs with a best-of-five series against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, beginning on Wednesday.
"While I look forward to arriving in Kalamazoo and begin our work there, my immediate focus remains with the Indiana Ice, as we compete to keep the Clark Cup in Indianapolis," Blashill stated.
Prior to coaching in the USHL, Blashill spent six seasons in the role of assistant coach for the Miami University RedHawks, helping the now-powerful program to an 83-31-9 record during that span and qualifying for the NCAA tournament in each of his last three seasons. Before Miami, Blashill served on the coaching staff at his alma mater, Ferris State University, for four seasons.
"Jeff's intelligence, coaching talent, and commitment to the United States Hockey League have been singular over the past two seasons," said Commissioner Skip Prince. "We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to know him in his role as both the on-ice and off-ice leader of the Indiana Ice organization. I look forward to watching him finish out his short but extraordinary career here as he defends the Clark Cup – but we're not saying good-bye to him, as I know that as a force at Western Michigan, he will be an instrumental part of the USHL's growing relationship with college hockey. Let me just say to all CCHA fans out there: watch out for the Broncos."
As a player, Blashill spent three seasons (1991-94) in the USHL as a goaltender for the Des Moines Buccaneers. He compiled a 43-11-0 record during that time and was a member of the team that captured the Clark Cup in 1992 and the Anderson Cup as regular season champions during the 1993-94 campaign. During a four-year collegiate career at Ferris State (1994-98), he was a three-time recipient of the program's scholar-athlete award.
"The Indiana Ice family have lost a key team-player, but have gained both a Clark Cup and a friend for life," said Indiana Ice CEO Paul Skjodt. "Jeff and our staff look forward to the defense of our title before he departs Indianapolis. We all wish him much success in the future."
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)