"There were no expectations at the beginning of the season" Coach Jeff Blashill stated. The coach, hired in April of 2010, entered a program that had come off of a very disappointing 2009-10 season (8-20-8). There was no expectation of where they would land this year. However, there was the expectation that the team would show up and work hard with the desire to get better every day. This brings to mind the Don Cherry Boston Bruins and the "bring your lunchpail to work" attitude.
This attitude, it seems, is just what the doctor ordered this year. Western Michigan University ended up as the 4th seed in the CCHL, and posted an impressive 18-11-10 record this season. Coach Blashill, in fact, found himself 1 point ahead of his Alma Mater, Ferris State University at the end of the season. Coach Blashill also worked as an Assistant Coach to Bob Daniels. The series between Ferris State and Western Michigan University was predicted to be close, and it did not fail to disappoint. It was in overtime in the third and deciding game the Western Michigan was able to move past a very talented Ferris State team.
"At the end, you could see that the players had a lot of mutual respect for each other". That, on top of the respect of both coaching staffs, makes it clear why hockey produces such excellent players and coaches. The fierce competition melts away with handshakes. There was no animocity in the air, only respect between two very good Michigan teams. Knowing that coach Blashill had been a goalie, I asked what overtime is like in that position. "It's hard to lose in overtime" he stated. "Pat Nagle (Ferris State Goalie) is one of the best goalies in the country". Indeed, many NHL teams have already taken notice.
Coach Blashill describes this past season as "exciting. The guys are really committing themselves". The atmosphere at Western Michigan University is great for hockey, and filled with a lot of loyal fans. In fact, the coach firmly believes that his team will be "represented well by Broncos" this weekend in Detroit. For more information on the Hockey in the D tournament, click here.
The first round, this Friday March 18th at 8:00, will see 1st place University of Michigan versus 4th place Western Michigan University. For Michigan college hockey fans, this is the game to watch. Western Michigan has risen up as a hard working contender with the confidence that they can succeed. This will make for an impressive contest. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit.