Miami Athletics announced on March 29 that Miami Hockey head coach Enrico Blasi hired Peter Mannino as associate head coach. With the hiring of Mannino, the Brotherhood simultaneously welcomed a new level of commitment to success and tangible excitement to the program.
“I think he’s got a personality and energy to him that’s very contagious,” Blasi said on Monday. “He’s going to bring that energy, that work ethic, that newness of fresh eyes and things like that, that will hopefully inspire all of us.”
Speaking with Mannino, his energy is immediately apparent in how he describes himself as a coach who desires to be trustworthy and approachable, fun-loving and competitive.
“[The players] will know the line when things are fun and they also know when it’s time to punch the clock and really get to work,” Mannino said over the phone on Monday.
It is also apparent in how he talks about desperately wanting to win a National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship, something Miami hasn’t done since the 2014-15 season, and an NCAA championship, a feat Miami hasn’t ever accomplished.
“You’re not building the unbelievable history, you’re taking it to a new chapter, a new level of Miami history,” Mannino said. “The end all, be all is going after a championship, winning a national championship and being very successful within the NCHC. I know myself and Rico and the whole staff totally believe in that – that we have a group who can do that.”
Though Miami is unfamiliar with recent NCHC and NCAA success, Mannino isn’t – he brings several years of experience coaching young hockey players to championships. His added experience as a former collegiate hockey player will provide depth to Miami’s bench.
Mannino comes to Miami after spending the 2017-18 season as an assistant coach with Miami’s NCHC opponent, the University of Nebraska-Omaha. This season, the Mavericks finished fifth in the eight-team NCHC, whereas the RedHawks finished last.
Before coaching at Omaha, Mannino spent two years as an assistant coach with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. He coached the team’s penalty kill unit to finish first in the league in 2017 and second in 2016, and was a part of the Steel’s record-setting year in 2016-17 which ultimately saw them win the Clark Cup.
Prior to his coaching days, Mannino played as the starting goaltender for the University of Denver and led his team to a national championship during the 2004-05 season. Mannino would play professionally for seven organizations including a handful of NHL appearances with the New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets.
Mannino’s extensive experience as a player and coach in the NCHC and his recruiting connections from the USHL drew Blasi to him as a candidate. Miami’s strong alumni base, campus culture and hockey’s history of success drew Mannino to Oxford – he thinks the university is a phenomenal environment for a student-athlete.
But, Mannino only wants to further improve Miami hockey’s culture and he anticipates this will come from a consistency the program hasn’t seen in years. Mannino will work with Blasi to encourage the RedHawks to play even-keel amidst failure and success, and to not let the repeated failure of the past affect the attitude when looking to the future.
“I think it’s the mindset, first and foremost,” Mannino said. “You’re building a new culture, a new environment in the locker room. I want our group to be the tightest group – the tightest team – and that starts now.”
The hiring of Mannino comes 12 days after Miami Hockey announced associate head coach Brent Brekke and assistant head coach Nick Petraglia would not return for the 2018-19 season.
Blasi emphasized the decision was mutual between himself and Brekke and Petraglia, respectively. Both former assistant coaches are pursuing other opportunities better suited for their career aspirations and family life.
“It was the right moment to move forward,” Blasi said.
After a 12-20-5 season and a 6-15-4 conference record, it’s certainly time for Miami Hockey to move forward. Mannino and Blasi are “pounding the pavement” to finish recruiting for next season, and are looking forward to welcoming a third assistant coach to complete the revitalized coaching staff.
“I’m just really thrilled and I want people to know that,” Mannino said. “This is a very committed approach and I’m thankful to be a part of it.”