The University of St. Thomas introduces Rico Blasi as new men’s hockey head coach
The University of St. Thomas Tommies officially introduced its first Division I hockey head coach Rico Blasi, Tuesday afternoon.
***CLICK ON THE VIDEO BOX TO HEAR FROM THE ST. THOMAS PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, AND BLASI***
Blasi, 49, brings three decades of experience as a Division I hockey player, grad assistant coach, assistant coach, head coach, and administrator. He was chosen to lead St. Thomas in its transition into Division I hockey, which begins with play in fall 2021.
During his 20-year era as Miami (Ohio) University head coach (1999-2019), Blasi and his Redhawks earned 10 NCAA tournament appearances highlighted by one championship game berth (2008-09) and one other Frozen Four appearance (2009-10).
Blasi was selected as National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He also coached one Hobey Baker Award winner and eight other Hobey finalists; 10 All-America players; one CoSIDA Academic All-America recipient; and 25 Redhawks who went on to play in the National Hockey League.
"I would like to thank Dr. (Julie) Sullivan and Dr. (Phil) Esten for this incredible opportunity and their trust in me to lead our hockey program in this transition," Blasi said. "I’m honored, proud and excited to be a part of the St. Thomas family.
"First, we are uniquely positioned in the ‘STATE of Hockey’ with academic excellence, athletic tradition, and incredible alumni and community support. Next, the commitment and leadership from Dr. Sullivan, Dr. Esten, and the Board of Trustees will help lay the groundwork for success. Plus, there’s a beautiful campus, and a foundation of Faith that I believe will position us to create a national brand for hockey at St. Thomas. We will strive, each and every day, to be the best we can be. We will be grateful and proud to wear the Purple and represent this university."
"I’m thrilled to welcome Rico Blasi and his family to Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas," said Phil Esten, Vice President and Director of Athletics. "During our national search we spoke with many impressive and highly-qualified individuals, and Coach Blasi quickly rose to the top of our list. Rico is a seasoned, culture-driven, student athlete-centric leader who is aligned with our institutional and athletics values and perfectly positioned to help transition and build our Division I program. He brings a well-earned reputation as a program builder, and his contagious energy and passion for the sport are impressive. Those qualities made him our clear choice to lead St. Thomas into the future.
"Simply put, Rico brings the right experience, the right vision, and the right values to help St. Thomas hockey succeed on the ice and in the classroom."
Blasi becomes the 25th head coach in the last 100 seasons of St. Thomas men’s hockey. He’s just the fifth head coach in the program’s last 52 seasons.
More on Rico Blasi:
- Was Division I hockey’s youngest head coach in 1999 when at age 27 he was hired at Miami, his alma mater.
- Was named Central Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year in just his second season after leading a seven-win turnaround to a 17-10-3 mark in conference play
- Led Miami to a CCHA runner-up finish and NCAA Tournament appearance in just his fourth season
- That NCAA berth ended the Redhawks’ six-year tournament drought
- Led Miami to program’s first No. 1 national ranking (2005-06)
- Led first Miami athletics team in any sport to play in an NCAA championship game
- His 2007-08 team set a program record for season wins in a 33-8-1 finish
- In Miami’s last eight years in the CCHA era (2005-13), his teams averaged 26 victories a season
- His 398 victories rank him in the top 12 among all active NCAA Division I men’s hockey coaches
- Played on Miami hockey’s first NCAA tournament team (1992-93)
- As a Redhawk player was part of teams that improved from five wins in his freshman season of 1990-91 to 27 wins in his junior season of 1992-93
- As a player at Miami was a two-time captain and two-time recipient of Blue Line Club Award (annual leadership honor presented to one player for exemplary on and off ice contributions)
- Will make a return to the CCHA, where he received five league Coach of the Year honors during his first 14 seasons. The original CCHA disbanded after the 2012-13 season, but a new CCHA was announced this year. St. Thomas is one of eight members of the new CCHA which starts play in 2021-22.
- He joins the Tommies from Providence College, where he has served since October 2020 as the Associate Athletic Director for Men’s and Women’s Hockey.