Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Miami University Head Coach Enrico Blasi

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, January 8 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Miami University Head Coach Enrico Blasi pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The RedHawks face CCHA rival Nebraska-Omaha this weekend, with Friday's game airing LIVE on CSTV at 8 p.m. ET.

Enrico Blasi

A 1994 graduate of Miami University, Enrico Blasi took over the reins at his alma mater in 1999 as the youngest head coach in Division I college hockey, and has worked tirelessly ever since to make that family the strongest unit it can be. With the 2006 National Coach of the Year Award, three Central Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year Awards and two trip to the NCAA Tournament under his belt in just seven seasons with the Red and White, Blasi's ideals of family and togetherness are paying big dividends in Oxford.

Blasi's three CCHA Coach of the Year Awards in just seven seasons put him in very good company. He is one of only three coaches in league history to win three or more such awards, joining Michigan State's Ron Mason, the winningest coach in college hockey history, who won seven times, and former Western Michigan head coach Bill Wilkinson, who won the award three times. Mason (924), who is now the director of athletics at Michigan State, and Wilkinson (414), have combined to win 1,328 college hockey games.

The first Miami hockey alumnus to return to his alma mater as the head coach, Blasi came to Miami after working four years - three as an assistant and one as a graduate assistant - under former Miami mentor George Gwozdecky, who is now the head coach at the University of Denver.

As a player at Miami from 1990-1994, Blasi was a vital cog in the Red and White's run to their first CCHA title in 1992-93. As the captain of the 1993-94 squad, he finished third on the team in scoring with 28 points on 13 goals and 15 assists. His 123 career points are tied for 14th on Miami's all-time scoring list.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Rico won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 8th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Welcome back to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We're joined now by Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, whose No. 2 RedHawks face Nebraska-Omaha on Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CSTV.
Coach Blasi: Hello everyone, thank you for coming.

Bill (Cincy): How difficult has it been to keep this team on an even keel, and to keep them from believing the press clippings. They have been dominating both statistically and on the ice, but of course on any given night, a hot goalie (Alaska) or a great team effort (BGSU) can overcome Miami's talent, so how do you convey the message of 60 minutes of hard work every game?
Coach Blasi: It all starts with our leadership. Ryan Jones has done a great job of keeping our team focused and making sure we continue to get better every day and control the things we can control from day to day.

Doug (Columbus): Hey Coach, can you comment on the injury front at all? Missing Nate Davis is starting to show a little on the scoring and faceoff fronts, and I'm sure his presence on the ice is missed by the team. How is Ray Eichenlaub recovering from that check from behind from Kai Kantola at BG Friday night?
Coach Blasi: We expect Nate back at the end of the month and Ray is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

BubbaK (Oxford, OH): Justin Vaive has been developing very nicely this season, but he is still a bit rough around the edges. Is there any likelihood that you will try to move match him up with different linemates to challenge him further and perhaps encourage his developement?
Coach Blasi: We're very happy with how Justin has played and developed over the course of the last couple months, we believe he has tremendous ability and will be given more responsiblity as time goes on.

Rob, Columbus: Rico....what was the guiding decision in going with Zatkoff primarily this season as opposed to the rotation over the past few years with Effinger? I also noticed Zatkoff was in goal for the final stretch of last season. Comments?
Coach Blasi: We continue to evaluate week to week, and it continues to be a tough decision. We feel Jeff has put himself in a situation to play a considerable amount.

Devon (Oxford): Coach Blasi: First a comment: Great job by you and your staff once again. Now a question: Your healthy scratches are typically the same guys. You've also committed to Zatkoff in net. How difficult is it to manage player expectations and morale when certain kids aren't playing and is it made more or less difficult when many of those that aren't playing are upperclassmen (i.e., Robbins, Findorf, Effinger)?
Coach Blasi: The toughest part of our job is picking the 20 guys that will play. It's not difficult to manage knowing that everyone wants what is best for the team.

Doug (Columbus): Hey Coach! We're all itching to find out: will we see Andy Miele in Red and White this season? Or are you going to let him get his Academic legs under him first, and save that year of eligibility for next year? Go 'Hawks! See you in Omaha!
Coach Blasi: Andy is eligible to play just like any other player on our team. We will have to evaluate the situation when he begins practice on Monday. We're very happy with how he's developed in the USHL and he comes in with a lot of confidence.

Mark Barnhart (Indianapolis): Having grown up playing hockey and watching Miami at the original Goggin it was tough for me to see it torn down. That being said, the new facility is amazing! Have the new digs helped with your recruiting efforts and how do you like them overall?
Coach Blasi: We love the facility and all the ammenities that come with it. The arena has definitely helped in recruiting, it shows commitment to the program. We feel we have what any young man would want in a school.

Joe (Oxford): Being a Miami fan for the past few years I had the opportunity to watch games in the old Goggin and now in the new. As a fan, I enjoyed the atmosphere in the Old Goggin better than the one now present in our new arena, although the amenities are obviously better. What is your opinion from a facilities standpoint but mainly in regards to in-game atmosphere etc.?
Coach Blasi: I think the in-game atmosphere is just as good in the new building as it was in the old. From the bench, it's definitely a home-ice advantage. Having been a player at the old Goggin, and now coaching in the new, I can tell you that it's a tough building to play in.

James (Detroit): Coach I have been in town after games and have seen many of your guys out after the Saturday games especially, what are your policies or strategies to give the guys freedom but to stay away from off the ice problems?
Coach Blasi: Part of our brotherhood and our culture is to try to make the right decision, and that every decision affects our program. We trust our players to take care of each other and to watch out for each other. In the end, it's the responsibility of each individual as part of our family.

fred (fairfield: Coach, the power play has been a little inconsistent this year. Last year Miami ran the high cycle a lot, but I'm not sure what the RedHawks are running this year. Can you explain what you are trying to do on the power play?
Coach Blasi: We have a lot of guys that have played the power play in the past. Our systems really haven't changed, you still have to take what the game gives you and what your opponents are doing. I don't think we've scored in bunches, but we've scored at key times and that's what makes the difference. We will continue to work on our power play just like any other week.

Bill(Cleveland): Tommy Wingels seems to have a knack for scoring. Most of his goals have come even strength. When will he get an opportunity on the power play? It seems he could really help there.
Coach Blasi: He's had plenty of power play time and has done a nice job. We've rotated many guys on the power play and will continue to do so.

Mark Barnhart (Indianapolis): I was at Miami while you were playing for MU. As an Oxford native who has been watching Miami hockey since the early 80's it's great to see the team in such good hands and finally in the national spotlight. What is it like to coach at your alma mater, the Cradle of Coaches?
Coach Blasi: It's been a lot of fun and Miami is a great place to work. We have great community and student support. With a lot of support from our athletic and university administration. Hopefully we can continue to elevate the program.

Jim (Denver): What lessons/traits have you learned from George Gwozdecky to help define you as a coach?
Coach Blasi: I think it's important to have a vision for the program and then build your team based on your philosophy and the value set. I think that's one of the most important things I learned from George. Once you have that foundation, it's a matter of recruiting to what you believe in and build a culture.

Jack (Cinci): What are you looking for in a student-athlete?
Coach Blasi: Obviously, we're looking for a student and a talented hockey player that fits into our brotherhood. Our program is based on trying to be the best team we can be and developing our student athletes on and off the ice.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Blasi this afternoon.
Coach Blasi: Thank you for having me on.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for this week's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats, presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. Remember that you can see Coach Blasi and the RedHawks take on Nebraska-Omaha on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, LIVE on CSTV. Also, be sure to keep checking back for news on next week's guests.
CSTV.com Moderator: Thanks, and have a great week.