Men’s hockey beyond the Final Four

With just more than a minute left in the menâÄôs hockey national championship last Saturday and Miami (OH) up 3-1, Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi was about to send RedHawks coach Enrico Blasi a congratulatory message on winning the schoolâÄôs first national championship. But when Boston University used two goals in the last minute of regulation to fuel the Terriers to a 4-3 overtime win, all Maturi could send were his well wishes to his former coach and team. âÄúTo think Enrico came as close as he did to being a national championship coach, it was a proud moment for me,âÄù Maturi said. While serving as athletic director at Miami, Maturi hired Blasi in 1999 âÄî making the then 27-year-old the youngest head coach in college hockey. âÄúI loved his passion for the institution, but I was scared to death to hire anybody who was 27 years old, who had never ran his own program,âÄù Maturi said. Blasi played at Oxford from 1990-94 and captained the RedHawks his senior year under current Denver coach George Gwozdecky , who Blasi would later work for at Denver. When the Miami job opened up, Maturi said the first person to contact him was Blasi, who has since led his program to its first Frozen Four appearance and MiamiâÄôs first No. 1 ranking in any sport. âÄúI realized that Miami needed somebody that wanted to be at Miami.âÄù Maturi said. âÄúAnd nobody, nobody came close to wanting to be at Miami, for what it was and what it wanted to be, more than Enrico Blasi.âÄù Busy Beavers Bemidji StateâÄôs historic run to the Frozen Four might have been derailed with a 4-1 semifinal loss to Miami, but the Beavers might be more successful in their attempt to break into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. According to WCHA associate commissioner and spokesman Doug Spencer , everything is set for Bemidji State to present its case for joining the league when the conference holds its annual meeting later this month in Florida. Spencer said the membership committee âÄî made up of one representative from each of the 10 WCHA teams âÄî will then decide to accept, deny or table the decision to let the Beavers in. In order to join the league, Bemidji State must get at least 75 percent approval from the committee. Eight votes, in other words. In an interview Wednesday, Maturi made it seem like his mind was already made up âÄî heâÄôs been a proponent of the Bemidji StateâÄôs cause all year. âÄúIf they donâÄôt get into the league I donâÄôt see how they can survive,âÄù Maturi said of the Beavers, who earned an automatic bid to the national tournament out of the crumbling College Hockey America. âÄúI donâÄôt believe you can survive as an independent.âÄù Moorhead to field team? At a press conference Friday, Minnesota State-Moorhead officials said there is a chance the school will add men and womenâÄôs hockey programs at the Division I level. âÄúI believe that there is a good chance of this happening,âÄù MSUM Athletic Director Doug Peters said. âÄúAnd now, a lot of pieces have to fall into place, but IâÄôve seen stranger things happen.âÄù Some of those pieces involve raising $10 million in external funds and finding some sort of conference affiliation âÄî the most logical of which is the WCHA, which would likely need a 12th team if Bemidji State is accepted. Spencer said the WCHA has yet to hear from MSUM as far as he knows, and the NCAA has a moratorium for accepting new Division I programs that would have to be lifted. The Metro Sports Foundation outlined the proposal to MSUM and North Dakota State, suggesting its Urban Plains Center for the teamâÄôs home rink and naming former Fighting Sioux coach Dean Blais as a potential head coach. North Dakota State officials said the school is not looking to add athletic programs at this time.