HOUGHTON, Mich. – Mel Pearson has been named the head hockey coach at the University of Michigan the school announced on Monday (April 24). Pearson just wrapped up his sixth season at Michigan Tech and was 118-92-29 overall in his return to his alma mater.
"Mel has been an incredible leader for our hockey program over the last six seasons, and we thank him for his efforts to lead Michigan Tech hockey back to national relevance," Michigan Tech Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret said. "Winning the GLI, bringing home the MacNaughton Cup, winning the WCHA Championship at home this season, and going to the NCAA Tournament twice are moments that our fans will remember forever."
"We have a great hockey program in a great hockey town and we will hire someone to build on that tradition," Michigan Tech President Glenn D. Mroz added. "We thank Coach Pearson for his fantastic six years at Michigan Tech. He has put us in a position to hire a new coach who will build upon the tremendous success Mel has had here. We wish Mel and his wife Susie the best of luck."
"Mel has proven that you can win at Michigan Tech," added Sanregret. "This is an opportunity for us to continue to grow and advance our historic program, and we will begin a national search for his replacement immediately."
Pearson was hired in May 2011 and went on to become the second winningest coach in Michigan Tech's 96-year hockey history. The Huskies have gone 75-34-14 over the last three seasons and have been ranked in the top 20 at season's end in all three years. Pearson was twice named WCHA Coach of the Year, College Hockey News Coach of the Year (2014-15), and had two WCHA Players of the Year (Tanner Kero, Alex Petan) who went on to be Hobey Baker Finalists and All-Americans. Four former Tech players under Pearson played in the NHL during the 2016-17 season and seven are currently under contract with NHL teams.
"I would like to thank President Mroz and Suzanne Sanregret for all of their support and for bringing me back to Michigan Tech and giving me an opportunity to become a head coach," Pearson said. "I just can't thank them enough.
"I would also like to thank all of the players that I've had at Tech that have helped make my time very enjoyable. I'm so proud of the guys I was able to coach, and I love those guys. I look forward to continuing my friendship with all of them.
"Being a head coach is never a one-man show. My assistant coaches and support staff worked tirelessly to help us win championships and were an important piece to our success."
Pearson was named WCHA Coach of the Year after his first season in 2011-12, improving the Huskies' win total by 12 games from the previous season. Tech won the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational title for the first time in 32 years with back-to-back 4-0 shutout wins over Michigan and Western Michigan. The 2013-14 team played in the GLI Championship Game at Comerica Park and swept Michigan State at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in their first games in Houghton since 1984.
The Huskies climbed to the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2014-15 after a program-best 10-game winning streak to begin the season. The Huskies swept Michigan at home during the stretch and went on to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 34 years. The 2015-16 Huskies brought home the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA Regular Season Champions for the first time since 1975-76, and Pearson was named WCHA Coach of the Year for the second time.
The 2016-17 team was 23-15-7 overall, winning 20 games for the third year in a row—something that hadn't been done since 1983. Tech went on to win the WCHA Championship in front of a sellout John MacInnes Student Ice Arena crowd to capture the Broadmoor Trophy and a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last three seasons.
"I'm going to miss the people and the community," added Pearson. "The Copper Country has a special place in my heart. I always enjoyed my time there as a student-athlete, assistant coach, and head coach.
"It's the people that make the community so special—the fans, alumni, former players, Misfits, and Pep Band are groups that make Michigan Tech hockey such a proud and historic program.
"I will always remember my last game at the Mac when we won the WCHA Championship. I couldn't ask for a better last game at home than that one."
Pearson began his coaching career as an assistant at Tech from 1982-88 under head coaches Herb Boxer and Jim Nahrgang.
A four-year letter-winner with Tech from 1977-81, Pearson accumulated 56 points (21 goals, 35 assists) in 97 career outings and helped the Huskies win the WCHA playoff tournament and the GLI as a senior in 1980-81. A native of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Pearson moved to the United States as a youth and played hockey at Edina (Minnesota) High School before making his way to Houghton.
Pearson's Accomplishments at Tech
• Hired May 2011
• 2015-16 MacNaughton Cup Champs
• 2016-17 Broadmoor Trophy Champs
• Two NCAA Tournament Appearances
• Two-Time WCHA Coach of the Year
• 118 Wins – Second Most at Tech
• College Hockey News Coach of the Year
• 2012 GLI Champions
• Two Hobey Baker Finalists, All-Americans, & WCHA Players of the Year
• 19 WCHA All-Conference Picks
• 2014-15 No. 1 Ranking
• Four Former Huskies on NHL Teams in 2016-17
• Seven Former Huskies with Current NHL Contracts