April 15, 2011

By Hannah R. Miller

OXFORD, Ohio--In addition to his already impressive list of accomplishments, Miami University head hockey coach Enrico Blasi has been selected as one of four winners of the Profound Impact Award from Miami University's School of Education, Health and Society (EHS). The annual award recognizes Miami EHS alumni who are making a difference in both their profession and their community.

Blasi, a 1994 Miami graduate with a major in physical education, started coaching at the University of Denver under former Miami mentor George Gwozdecky, Blasi's former coach in Oxford. Just five years later in 1999, the former Miami player and two-time captain was named head coach of the RedHawks, becoming the youngest head coach in Division I hockey and the first Miami hockey alumnus to return to the program as head coach.

In 12 seasons at his alma mater, Blasi has turned Miami into a nationally recognized program, boasting nine 20-win seasons, including a school-record 33 victories in 2007-08, and the school's first No. 1 national ranking in any sport (2006-07). He has led the team to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including each of the last six seasons, and back-to-back Frozen Four appearances in 2009 and 2010, the first in program history. Miami had appeared in just two NCAA Tournaments prior to Blasi taking over the `Hawks and the team had never won an NCAA Tournament game until 2007. This past year, Blasi guided Miami to its first CCHA Tournament championship and Mason Cup and has also led the RedHawks to two CCHA regular-season championships. The winningest coach in Miami hockey history, he has been recognized by the CCHA as Coach of the Year four times and won the Spencer Penrose Award in 2006 as the American Hockey Coaches Association National Coach of the Year.

While leading the team to successes on the ice, Blasi has fostered a championship culture that has been ingrained in each of his players. Assistant coach and former Miami player Nick Petraglia nominated his former coach for the award, noting how important Blasi's role is in the life of each teammate. "He has had a lasting impact on each member of the Miami hockey family," Petraglia says. "His leadership is second-to-none as he holds our student-athletes to the highest of standards both on and off the ice."

Not only has Blasi found success on the ice but he has also created The Brotherhood, which is a team-first philosophy that holds players accountable for their own actions and actions of each while also encompassing family, trust and being the best you can be in all facets of life. Blasi's players have been very active in the community as well, as players skate with fans on Skate with the `Hawks night, teach youngsters to play hockey through the Jr. RedHawks program and skate annually with the disabled in conjunction with the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The team also serves dinner to the community each year during Rico's Ristorante and adopted a three-year-old boy with a brain tumor, Michael Quintero, this past year, and made him an honorary member of The Brotherhood complete with his own locker in the locker room.

Ryan Jones, a former Miami captain and All-American now playing with the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL, gives Blasi a lot of credit for helping him realize his dreams of playing in the National Hockey League. "Coach Blasi has built a hockey program that, as an alum, I am proud to say I was a part of," Jones says. "All of his players are better off, most importantly as people, for having a mentor like him."

Like former players Petraglia and Jones, Dr. Don DiPaolo, who works with the Miami hockey program as a leadership consultant, says Blasi's off-ice influence is even more significant than his impressive victories on the ice. "The bigger impact is that young men are healthier, better adjusted, more loved, and ready for meaningful engagement with others and the world because of him," DiPaolo says.

The other award winners along with Blasi are Linda Clark ('80), who is chief operating officer for Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Rev. Belle Heffner Mickelson ('70), who recently completed divinity school and is now an ordained deacon of the Episcopal Church; and David Vocke ('77), who is chair of Towson University's Department of Secondary Education.

"As a group and as individuals these award winners exemplify the good work that thousands of EHS graduates are doing throughout Ohio, the United States and the world," said Carine Feyten, EHS dean.

Blasi was selected by a faculty panel for the Profound Impact Award from a pool of more than 20 alumni nominated. The presentation ceremony and reception will be held Thursday, April 28 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Marcum Conference Center. The reception is open to the public and free of charge.