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Nebraska-Omaha names Dean Blais head hockey coach

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Former University of North Dakota coach Dean Blais was named the head men's hockey coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha today.

He resigned as head coach and general manager with the Fargo Force. He will still remain as co-owner of the USHL franchise.

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"This is quite a thrill for me," Blais said during a news conference at UNO. "... I'm happy to be a Maverick. Hopefully we're gonna win a lot of games."

The position opened up on May 14, when Mike Kemp took a job at UNO as associate athletic director. Kemp was the only coach in the program's history until Friday.

Nebraska-Omaha is being courted by the Western Collagiate Hockey Association. The Mavs currently play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Bemidji State has applied for membership in the WCHA, but league officials say they would prefer to expand from 10 to 12 teams.

Blais coached one year with the Force, and took the team to the USHL's Clark Cup finals in the team's inaugural season.

He was also named USHL coach of the year, and Fargo was named the league's franchise of the year.

The Force will begin looking for Blais' replacement immediately. The team has another training camp at the end of July.

"We're not going to make a rash decision just to bring somebody in here quickly," the Force's Andy Leapaldt said. "We have a short list of people we're actively pursuing and we'll go from there."

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Pioneer staff reports
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