The former goaltender spent four seasons between the pipes for Ferris
State, earning the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year award in 1994-95 and a
spot on the CCHA’s All-Academic Team for 1996-97. He also garnered
the Ferris State University President’s Award for three straight years for
having the highest grade point average on the team.
Blashill began his coaching career by spending three seasons (1999-
2002) as an assistant at Ferris State University, his alma mater. He also
spent six seasons (2002-08) with Miami University, helping the CCHA’s
RedHawks qualify for the NCAA Tournament four times.
“I’ve been real, real lucky in my career,” he said. “I’ve been able to
work for and with some great, great coaches and people. I couldn’t
have had better mentors than Ferris State’s Bob Daniels (head coach)
and Drew Famulak (associate head coach), who recruited me and
Blashill noted that he continues to hold strong relationships with both
Daniels and Famulak.
“They’re really good friends of mine to this day,” he said. “I rely on them
a lot. I have lots of hockey talks with both of them. It’s no question that
they certainly played a big part in jump-starting my career, and I’m very
thankful for that.”
The Bulldog staff also played a big role in helping jump start the career
of Billins. He joined the Griffins after wrapping up his senior campaign
as both an All-American on the ice and an Academic All-American
for his work in the classroom while helping the Bulldogs to their first-
ever NCAA Frozen Four appearance and a national runner-up effort in
“He was with us because of the recommendation that the Ferris
staff gave me when I first took the job in Grand Rapids,” Blashill said.
“They were solely responsible for getting him on the team and luckily
for me, I listened to them. He did a great job and was a big piece of
our championship puzzle.”
A native of Marysville, Mich., Billins logged 29 points (7-22—29)
and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Bulldogs as a senior
while claiming American Hockey Coaches Association All-America
Second Team plaudits on the ice. The veteran defenseman served
as a co-captain for the Bulldogs during the team’s run to the NCAA
Frozen Four, where they were defeated in the championship game
by Boston College. The 5-10, 175-pound defenseman skated in 149
games in four years with Ferris State, notching 67 points (17-50—67)
and 108 penalty minutes.
Billins was recognized in his final season as both an All-CCHA First
Team recipient and the winner of the CCHA’s prestigious Scholar-
Athlete Award as the Bulldogs claimed the school’s second-ever
league regular-season crown. He placed second among CCHA
defensemen with 25 points (7-18—25) in 31 conference games. In
2011-12, Billins was also a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award
and earned a spot on the Senior CLASS All-America Team, which
rewards academic success and the loyalty of seniors that honored
their four-year commitment to their university.
“Chad’s a great competitor, a great person and a great hockey player,”
The success the duo helped Grand Rapids achieve this past season
was rewarded for Billins as he moved a step closer to the National
Hockey League by signing a one-year, two-way contract with
the NHL’s Calgary Flames at the conclusion of the championship
campaign. Billins will be invited to Calgary’s training camp and have
an opportunity to make the team.
“It was definitely an exciting time to win the championship with Grand
Rapids,” Billins said. “I just can’t thank them and Ferris State enough
for the opportunity they gave me and where that has led. Before
signing, I got to enjoy that for a couple weeks, and you’ll have that
forever, that championship.”
Both Blashill and Billins had the opportunity to come back to Big Rapids
and the FSU campus for the 27th annual Bulldog Hockey Classic-
Alumni Golf Outing in early August, which featured nearly 170 golfers
and was sold out for the second-straight year.
“It’s a tribute to Bob Daniels and his staff that this many people come
back every year,” Blashill said. “It’s also a tribute to Ferris State and all
the special feelings we have for Ferris. I just think it’s outstanding that
everyone comes back for the weekend.”
For Billins, being able to come back a champion to a community where
he was embraced as a collegiate student-athlete meant a great deal.
“It’s pretty special to see all of these people,” he said. “The community
is a big part of why Bulldog Hockey has been so successful. They’re
always welcoming and ready to support the hockey program.”