Top 10 Americans To Watch in 2011-2012

USA Hockey Magazine is counting down the top 10 Americans to watch in 2011-2012. In no particular order, this list features players and personnel from all different levels.

8. Dean Blais, Team USA, University of Nebraska Omaha

BORN: January 18, 1951

HOMETOWN: International Falls, Minn.

LAST SEASON:  Led the Mavericks 20-16-2 record, finishing third in the WCHA.

Sept. 29 Ryan Callahan
Oct. 1
Tyler Biggs
Oct. 2
Dean Blais
Oct. 3
Seth Jones
Oct. 4
Knight, Decker
Oct. 5
Ron Wilson
Oct. 6
David Backes
Oct. 7
Rocco Grimaldi
Oct. 8
Zach Parise
Oct. 9
Tim Thomas

Let’s face it, the World Junior Championships is one of the most exciting times of the year. Some would argue it’s better than Christmas. Some would argue it is Christmas. We’ll leave that up to you.

Either way, Mr. Dean Blais has returned. After a remarkable and memorable 2010 Gold Medal run, Team USA will be guided once again by the veteran coach in 2012.

"I'm extremely honored to coach this team," said Blais. "It's really exciting to see how far hockey has come in our country. We now go into the World Juniors expecting to win and that will be our mind set from the summer camp right through the tournament next December and January in Edmonton and Calgary."

Team USA isn’t Blais’ only priority. He’s also in charge of the upstart University of Nebraska-Omaha program. The Mavericks were stunned in the NCAA regionals by Michigan last year – and lost a lot of talent to boot. But the International Falls, Minn. native won his fourth WCHA Coach of the Year award.

Entering his third season as head coach, Blais’ recruiting efforts will now be on full display. While numerous polls have the Mavericks finishing below last year’s mark, don’t doubt the coach’s ability to make a late-season run.

After all, he won two NCAA National Championships at North Dakota.



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