"We want to send a message, acceptance is something we need". This is not the typical quote from a head coach before entering into the semi-finals, but for Coach Enrico Blasi, this is the undercurrent of a theme that has brought his team closer as a team, and a family. The tragic loss of Brendan Burke is still felt deeply by this team. However, the team has used this opportunity to pull together and found themselves in the 3rd place spot at the end of this season in which they posted an impressive 21-9-6 record.
Coach Blasi, since accepting his position in 1999, has seen the program at Miami University have a profound impact on the CCHA. They are recognized for their on-ice success and developing strong players. They also develop strong leaders on staff, and many have found themselves with Assistant Coaching positions for other organizations. Two have made their way to head coaching positions (Western Michigan and Bowling Green). When asked about this incredible feat, the coach believes that one day he will take time to reflect on all these things. For now, his team is still playing.
Coach Blasi firmly believes that a person becomes a coach or a teacher in order to "have an impact. This position also helps me to continue to grow and mature". This is a responsibility he takes very seriously. However, the coach never says that he is going to work. "I say, 'I'm going to the rink'." He still loves this game.
Miami of Ohio(3) will face off on Friday at 4:30 against Notre Dame(2) in Detroit. This is a team that the coach describes as "highly skilled. We're playing a great team". This will, indeed, be an intense battle. Miami is not just playing for pride, but for the memory of a beloved friend and mentor. They bring a collective strength and passion that seems to have channeled itself into a firm resolve to perform at the very highest level. The end result will be judged by this one standard, "As long as we've given it everything we have." And to a team with this much skill and this much heart, that serves to be a tall order for any team to compete with.
The game on Friday can be viewed on Fox Sports Detroit. For more information on Hockey in the D, click here.