July 9, 2004
North Dakota Names Hakstol Head Coach
Former Blais assistant takes over top spot in Grand Forks

North Dakota felt that the best candidate to take over its storied hockey program was already on campus, officially naming interim head coach Dave Hakstol to the permanent post on Friday. Hakstol, who spent four years as the teamís associate head coach under Dean Blais, was introduced at a press conference in the lobby of the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"This program is the pinnacle of college hockey, and there's no better place to be," Hakstol said.

Hakstol joined the North Dakota staff in 2000, when Scott Sandelin left to take the head coaching position at Minnesota Duluth. Sandelin, the Spencer Penrose Award winner this season, was thought by many to be a top contender for the job, but North Dakota chose not to conduct an outside search.

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“It is an exciting day for UND athletics and Fighting Sioux hockey,” athletic director Roger Thomas said in a statement. “The experience Dave has had in helping lead our program in the past more than qualifies him to lead this program in the present and into the future. His background in coaching and recruiting will help carry on the tradition of the program.”

Blais himself recommended his former assistant upon his departure, something that meant a lot to Hakstol.

"I guess what [his recommendation] tells me is that I've done a good job the past four years," Hakstol said. "That means a whole lot to me."

In addition to Hakstol's appointment, North Dakota announced that assistant coach Brad Berry had been elevated to the position of associate head coach. A search will commence to find an assistant coach.

Hakstol takes over the tremendously successful North Dakota program, which has won seven national championships. Two of those came under Blais, who left the school two weeks ago to become an associate coach with the NHLís Columbus Blue Jackets. Last yearís North Dakota team finished 30-8-3, won the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA champion, and was ranked first in the nation for much of the year, before falling to eventual champion Denver in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Hakstol will lead a talented Sioux team into the 2004-05 season that should return four of its top five scorers, including leading scorer Brandon Bochenski. A formidable defense corps returns intact, led by Matt Jones, Andy Schneider and Matt Greene, while the top two goaltenders are back as well. Gone for the NHL, however, is not only Blais but also Zach Parise, one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award last season.

A North Dakota graduate who skated for the Fighting Sioux from 1989-92, Hakstol was a two-year captain. Prior to returning to Grand Forks, Hakstol spent four years as the head coach and general manager of the USHLís Sioux City Musketeers. He was the USHL Coach of the Year in 1997-98.

Hakstol had a four-year professional career in the now-defunct IHL. He is a native of Warburg, Alta.

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