The winningest active coach in NCAA Division I hockey and now entering his 10th season as head coach of the Fighting Sioux, Dean Blais has consitently produced teams which are among the elite in the WCHA and the NCAA.
Two NCAA Frozen Four titles (1997 and 2000). A runner-up finish in 2001. Four WCHA titles (1997-1999, 2001), including a record-tying three straight conference championships. In all, Blais has compiled a 232-107-30 for an NCAA-best .669 winning percentage. His 232 career wins rank second on the school’s all-time list, trailing only his mentor John “Gino” Gasparini (392).
After a rebuilding season in 2001-02 in which the Sioux posted a rare sub.-500 record, Blais led UND back to prominence in 2002-03. The Fighting Sioux, ranked No. 1 in the country for much of the season, went 26-12-5 to finish fourth in the WCHA and advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
In 2001-02, Blais led the Fighting Sioux into their new home, the $100 million, state-of-the-art Ralph Engelstad Arena.
In 2001 Blais guided the Sioux to the NCAA playoffs and defeated Colorado College in the East Regional 4-1. North Dakota next met the number one seed, Michigan State, in the semifinal and held the Spartans scoreless with a 2-0 win. Again the Fighting Sioux were in the NCAA title game, and like the year before, met Boston College in the championship. North Dakota was down 2-0 with 3:42 remaining in the game when Blais pulled goaltender Karl Goehring to put the extra attacker on the ice. The move worked. The Sioux scored two goals, the game-tying goal coming with just :37 seconds left to play. In overtime it was BC's Krys Kolanos scoring to give Boston College the win and their first NCAA Hockey Championship since 1949.
In addition to the 2001 NCAA second-place trophy, Blais was named the WCHA Coach of the Year for the third time in 2000-01. Blais was also coach of the year in 1996-97 and 1998-99. On the national level, the American Hockey Coaches Association named Blais as the recipient of the 2001 Spencer Penrose Award as the nation's top collegiate coach for the second time.
In the past eight years UND has won four WCHA regular season titles: 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001. In 1997 Blais led the Sioux to their first NCAA title in 10 seasons and just three years later, in 2000, repeated the feat to win the seventh NCAA Division I hockey championship for the University of North Dakota.
In his tenure as head coach at UND, Blais has earned a number of personal accolades. He was named the American College Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2001 and was a finalist for the award in 1998. Blais was named the WCHA’s Coach of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2001 and was honored by Midwest Sports Channel as the MSC Sports Salute Gala Awards 1997 Coach of the Year. Blais was also voted the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association’s Male Coach of the Year in 1997.
Blais became the 14th head coach in the illustrious 56-year history of Fighting Sioux hockey on May 21, 1994. Prior to accepting the position at UND, Blais was the athletic director and head hockey coach at International Falls (Minn.) High School for two years, leading his team to a conference title in 1993.
Blais’ coaching career began at the University of Minnesota, where he served as an assistant coach during the 1976-77 season. Blais became head hockey coach at Minot (N.D.) High School in 1977 and coached conference champions and state tournament participants in 1979 and 1980.
Blais’ first stint at the University of North Dakota began in 1980 when he became an assistant coach in a program that had just won its first of three national titles of the 1980s. During Blais’ nine seasons at UND, the Sioux won two NCAA titles, in 1982 and 1987, and claimed a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 1984. The Fighting Sioux posted a 239-130-11 (.643) record during Blais’ tenure as an assistant coach from 1980 to 1989.
Blais became head hockey coach at Roseau (Minn.) High School in 1989 and guided his team to the 1990 Minnesota State High School title. He was honored that season as the Minnesota High School Hockey Coach of the Year. He coached Roseau to conference and regional championships in 1991 before being named an assistant coach for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team that took fourth-place at the Olympic Games in Albertville, France. Following the Olympics, Blais signed on as athletic director and hockey coach at International Falls High School.
Active with USA Hockey, Blais was an assistant coach with the U.S. Junior National Team in 1987 and 1988 and was head coach in 1993. As assistant coach at the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, he was a head coach at that event in 1991. Blais also served as an assistant coach for the 1991 U.S. Pravda Cup squad. In the summer of 1999, he coached the west team at USA Hockey’s Women’s Ice Hockey Summer Festival in Lake Placid. After returning from Providence and the 2000 NCAA Frozen Four Championship, Blais packed his bags for St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was an assistant coach for the U.S. National Team which competed in the 2000 International Ice Hockey Federation Pool A World Championship held April 28-May 14, 2000.
Blais played four seasons of hockey at the University of Minnesota where he was named the Gophers’ Rookie of the Year in 1970 and an NCAA All-Tournament selection in 1971. He played for the U.S. National Team in 1973 before beginning a three-year career with the Chicago Blackhawk’s affiliate in Dallas.
Blais earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Minnesota in 1977 and his master’s degree in education from the University of North Dakota in 1982. Blais was born January 18, 1951 in International Falls, Minn. He and his wife Wendy, have three children - Sarah, Ben and Mary Beth.