WILLMAR - Seventeen games into his second season behind the bench, Chris Blaisuis is out as head coach of the Willmar WarHawks.
Steve Yurichuck has been named the team's interim head coach. The WarHawks play Wednesday in Alexandria.
The dismissal came shortly after Saturday's 5-3 win over the Wisconsin Whalers at the Willmar Civic Center.
Blaisuis met with the team following the game and was met by team owner Chris Canavati who, Blaisuis said, told the coach, "we're letting you go."
"I stayed up most of the night last night trying to figure out why it happened," Blaisuis said. "It's tough to digest. We just wrapped up our 10th win of the season, something we didn't do until the (NA3HL) Showcase (in mid-December) last year, we're four games above .500 for the first time in club history, then 20 minutes after the game this happens."
WarHawks players expressed similar surprise.
"We were just shocked," said forward Zach Martin, an alternate captain on the team. "I'm still speechless. We didn't see it coming."
The cause for the dismissal is still unclear and Canavati was not immediately available for comment on Sunday. Canavati also owns the Alexandria Blizzard and the Brookings Blizzard of the North American Hockey League.
A press release on the team's web site announcing Yurichuk as interim coach stated that Blaisuis "stepped down on Saturday night."
Blaisuis has been the only head coach in the WarHawks' one-plus year history, coaching the squad to a total record of 32-28-3 in 64 games played. Willmar is off to a 10-6-1 start to the 2017-2018 campaign, good for second place in the West Division.