December 04, 2017 06:41 PM
(ABC 6 News) – As of Monday, the Rochester Ice Hawks have a new, but familiar face, leading their coaching staff—and he’s ready to bring “the glory days” back to Rochester.
After parting ways with previous head coach Eric Hofmann, the Ice Hawks hired Chris Blaisuis as the team’s next head coach.
Blaisuis, who previously served as the head coach of the Willmar War Hawks (also in the NA3HL), was a scout for the Ice Hawks from 2005-2007—coincidentally, when the Ice Hawks played in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, the Ice Hawks reached the national tournament in each of those three seasons Blaisuis was in Rochester.
Now, close to ten years later, Blaisuis is back in Rochester, in hopes of bringing the Ice Hawks program back to prominence.
“It’s just about selling the program,” Blaisuis said. “You have to be a little bit of a salesman, you have to be personable. This place sells itself here. The building, the resources, there’s no reason a kid shouldn’t want to come to Rochester. People want to come but you have to give something for them to support.”
Convincing kids to come to play for the Ice Hawks hasn’t been easy since the organization joined the NA3HL—since 2015, the Ice Hawks are 24-92-2. This season, the Ice Hawks are 4-16 and have lost 12 straight games on the ice.
Blaisuis has experience as a head coach and helping rebuild programs—Willmar finished 22-22-2 in 2016-2017, (this season, the War Hawks are 11-10-1).
“Once you start changing the culture here and getting better people in here, not just better hockey players but better kids who can fit better into the community, then it starts to roll” Blaisuis said. “Once you start to re-change the culture and rebuild it, it just keeps getting better and better as long as you keep putting the work in.”
“It’s a challenge, it’s a massive undertaking, but it’s fun. When you know you have the resources in place, from the community support to the building to ownership, it’s fun to know what it was and there’s a sense of pride of turning it back into something special, turning it into a destination where people want to come.”
Blaisuis addressed the Ice Hawks players in Rochester on Monday, telling them to “have faith” in the coaching staff.
“You don’t come to play junior hockey for a bad experience, we’re here to give you a proper experience and put the investment in you and move you to a higher level,” Blaisuis said. “It’s going to a process, it’ll take time to get the roster stabilized and settled and make sure we’re competitive."
"We don’t want to get out-shot 60-10, we want to give the kids hope. We want to build it up to get it back to where it was, and we’ll get there. We're here to rebuild it. It'll take a little bit of time, but we'll get there. We'll be competitive by the end of the year. Have faith in us, we'll get in turned around."
Updated: December 04, 2017 06:41 PM
Created: December 04, 2017 05:47 PM
Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company