Long-time head hockey coach Enrico Blasi has been fired after 20 years with the Miami RedHawks, Athletic Director David Sayler announced this afternoon.
"We owe a large debt of gratitude to Rico for all the work that he has done on behalf of Miami and Miami hockey," Sayler said to The Student. "He built what we currently have. A lot of love and respect for that, in terms of things he has brought to this job and this community. That just makes it even tougher when the results haven't been what we had liked them to be since we have joined the league."
The Brotherhood's season ended on Saturday after the RedHawks were swept by the No. 1 St. Cloud State Huskies to finish the season 11-23-4 and 5-17-2 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
This is the program's fourth consecutive season under .500, and the RedHawks have gone 47-81-19 (25-58-13 NCHC) in that span.
The 2018-19 season was marred by a 15-game winless streak and nine-game losing streak. The last time Miami hockey had been winless for more than 15 games in a row was during the 1990-91 season, when Blasi skated for the RedHawks as a first-year.
The announcement comes as a shock to much of the Miami community, and even Blasi spoke of the future yesterday while recapping the 'Hawks' previous weekend of play.
"Moving forward, we've got some guys coming in that are going to address both the power play and PK and we're going to have to be better in certainly that area," Blasi said.
Blasi responded to The Student's request for comment, but felt unprepared to make a statement at this time.
Sayler met with Blasi this morning to break the news.
Blasi spent several minutes with the RedHawks at 1:30 p.m. at an all-team meeting, before Sayler addressed the team.
"I told them to keep working hard and I believe that we can take this program to greater heights than what it's been in the last few years," Sayler said. "I believe in those kids in that room, and that's the basic message to them."
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First-year associate head coach Peter Mannino and first-year assistant coach Joel Beal were informed shortly after Blasi this morning. Mannino and Beal's contracts run through the end of this year, and the RedHawks respond to Mannino until further action is taken.
"We've invested a lot into this hockey program, along with Coach Blasi," Sayler said. "Our expectations are conference championships and NCHC Tournaments and we'd love a National Championship. Those are things we are going to strive to work towards, and I just felt the change was needed for us to move in that direction."
Blasi was hired in 1999 as the youngest coach of a Division I hockey program.
Over the past 20 years as head coach, Blasi compiled a 398-311-76 record. He was named the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year five times and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06.
The RedHawks played in 10 NCAA Tournament games, made two Frozen Four appearances and skated in one National Championship game under Blasi.
During the 2014-15 season, Blasi led the RedHawks to win the NCHC tournament and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It is the only top-half conference finish in the NCHC.
"It's hard on everybody," Sayler said. "That's the part about making a change like this, is it affects a lot of people and their families and that's hard."
There has been an outpouring of support from the Miami Athletics community on Twitter.
A national search for Blasi's replacement will begin immediately, though Sayler says his focus is on the student-athletes at this time.
This is a developing story and will be updated with further information, check back to miamistudent.net and follow us on Twitter @miamistudent for more frequent updates.