June 29, 2004
Sandelin to Lead U.S. Junior Team
Assistant elevated after Blais steps down

Minnesota Duluth's Scott Sandelin was the 2004 Spencer Penrose Award winner as the national coach of the year.

USA Hockey today elevated Minnesota Duluth's Scott Sandelin to the position of head coach of the 2005 U.S. National Junior Team, which will compete at the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Blais, the former North Dakota head coach, stepped down from the position after accepting a job as associate coach with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets. Sandelin had been slated to serve as an assistant coach on the team, along with Boston University assistant coach David Quinn. Mike Hastings, head coach and general manager of the USHL's River City Lancers, was named assistant coach in Sandelin's place.

Sandelin, coincidentally, may also be a candidate to replace Blais at North Dakota as well.

"While it is unfortunate that Dean will not be able to serve as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team due to his new responsibilities with the Columbus Blue Jackets, we are excited for him and his decision to move to the National Hockey League," said USA Hockey Executive Director Doug Palazzari. "Scott's impressive career as both an assistant and head coach in college hockey has propelled him to the top of his profession, making him an easy choice to take over for Dean."

"I am very honored to be asked by USA Hockey to coach the U.S. National Junior Team and to represent our country," said Sandelin. "Following last year's gold medal is a big task but I'm excited to work with David and Mike on our coaching staff and, together with a talented roster, we will shoot to hopefully duplicate those results."

Sandelin recently completed his fourth year behind the bench for Minnesota Duluth. In 2003-04 Sandelin led the Bulldogs to the Frozen Four, a school-best 28-13-4 record, and a second-place finish in the WCHA. Sandelin was honored by the American Hockey Coaches Association with the 2003-04 Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year.

Prior to joining Minnesota Duluth, Sandelin served as Blais' assistant at North Dakota for three seasons, from 1997-2000. During his tenure in Grand Forks, Sandelin helped the Fighting Sioux claim two NCAA titles, three WCHA regular-season championships and two WCHA playoff crowns.

Before embarking on his coaching career, Sandelin played four years at North Dakota and seven years of pro hockey. In 1985-86, his senior season, he was a Hobey Baker finalist, captained the team, was an All-WCHA first-team pick and a second-team All-American. He was named North Dakota's MVP as well.

Sandelin's pro career included stints in the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars. He was the second-round pick of the Canadiens in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. Sandelin also skated for Team USA at the 1984 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 1986 IIHF World Championship and the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Hastings recently completed his 10th year as head coach and general manager of the Lancers. During that time he has won more games in the USHL than any other coach, including the 2003-04 season, in which he guided the Lancers to a 37-17-5 record, and a third-place finish in the conference. In his tenure the Lancers have won the 2001-02 Anderson Cup, Clark Cup titles in the 1997-98 and 2000-01 seasons, and a USA Hockey Junior A National Championship in 2001.

Hastings served as an assistant coach for the 2003 United States National Junior Team, which competed in the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia, and finished fourth. Hastings also guided the 2000 USA Hockey Junior Select Team to the United States' first-ever gold medal at the Viking Cup in Camrose, Alberta, and also led the team to a silver medal in 1996.

The Crookston, Minn., native played two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Austin Mavericks (1984-85) and the Rochester Mustangs (1985-86) before moving on to St. Cloud State.

Hastings began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. He then accepted the job as assistant coach of the Lancers, and returned to St. Cloud State as the assistant coach during the 1993-94 season.

At the conclusion of the 2001-02 and 1996-97 seasons, Hastings was named both USHL Coach of the Year and USHL General Manager of the Year. His .725 winning percentage is the highest in league history.

Sandelin and the coaching staff will conduct the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp from Aug. 8-15 in Grand Forks. Seven members of the 2004 U.S. National Junior Team are eligible to return next season. Team USA posted a 6-0-0 record and earned the first gold medal for the United States in the 28-year history of the event at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland.

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