The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 will have a strong Minnesota presence, with two of its four members being from the North Star State.
International Falls native Dean Blais, who was a standout player for the Gophers before coaching North Dakota to a pair of NCAA championships, and Edina’s Jenny Potter, who starred at Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota after helping the United States win Olympic gold in 1998, were announced as two of the members. The other two are former Wisconsin standout and current Badgers coach Tony Granato and longtime Boston College coach Jerry York.
The four nominees will participate in a video conference call on Tuesday. Because of fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be enshrined with the yet-to-be-named Class of 2021 at an induction celebration in December of next year.
A coach for 40 years at the high school, collegiate and junior levels, Blais is most known for his work at North Dakota from 1994-2004, winning NCAA championships in 1997 and 2000 and finishing runner-up in 2001. Blais also coached Omaha for eight seasons, guiding the Mavericks to their lone NCAA Frozen Four in 2015. He finished his college coaching career with a 408-248-63 record, including 262-115-33 at North Dakota and 146-133-30 at Omaha.
Blais, 69, collected 139 points (56 goals, 83 assists) in 124 career games with the Gophers. He also coached Roseau to the 1990 one-class Minnesota high school state championship.
Potter, the former Jenny Schmidgall, is a 14-time international medalist and four-time Olympian, winning a gold medal in 1998, silvers in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze in 2006. A former Edina High School standout, Potter had two goals and three assists in the 1998 Olympics at age 19 and followed that up a year later with 12 points in five games in winning the outstanding forward award in the world championships.
Potter, 41, began her collegiate career with the Gophers, amassing 33 goals and 38 assists in 31 games and earning All-America honors. She transferred to Minnesota Duluth, where she would be a three-time All-America player, win a national title and collect a school-record 256 points (108 goals, 148 assists) in 102 games.
Granato, a Downer’s Grove, Ill., native, had 220 points in a four-year career at Wisconsin, then had a 13-year NHL career in which he had 248 goals and 244 assists. Granato, 56, spent two stints as coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and has coached Wisconsin since 2016-17.
York, 75, was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame last year. The Watertown, Mass., native is the Division I career leader in coaching victories (1,091) and led five teams to NCAA championships (four at Boston College, one at Bowling Green).