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Dean Blais named head coach of U.S. junior men's hockey team @NHL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Dean Blais will coach the U.S. team at the 2010 world junior hockey championships in Regina and Saskatoon.

The head coach and general manager of the United States Hockey League's Fargo Force was an associate coach with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets from 2004 to 2007.

The U.S. opens the world junior championship Dec. 26 versus Slovakia in Saskatoon. Canada, Switzerland and Latvia are also in Pool A. Canada and the U.S. meet Dec. 31.

The Americans finished fifth in Ottawa in January. The U.S. has played for medal six of the last seven years, but emerged with just two. Their gold in 2004 was the country's first in the tournament and the U.S. also took the bronze in 2007.

Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, will be the team's general manager and 1994 Olympic team head coach Tim Taylor will serve director of player personnel.

Blais, from International Falls, Minn., coached the Force to the USHL final in the club's first year. He was head coach of the U.S. junior team in 1994 when they finished sixth. Blais was going to coach the team again in 2005, but took the job with Columbus instead.

He has twice coached the University of North Dakota and during his 10 years there, the Fighting Sioux appeared in seven NCAA tournaments, were Division 1 champions in 1997 and 2000 and had an overall record 262-115-33.

The U.S. has four forwards who can return to play in the tournament a second straight year: Mitch Wahl and Tyler Johnson of the Spokane Chiefs; Jordan Schroeder of the University of Minnesota; Danny Kristo of the Omaha Lancers.

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