Courtesy of MTU Athletics
MADISON, Wis. — Michigan Tech hockey head coach Mel Pearson was named WCHA Coach of the Year it was announced today by the league office. Pearson, in his first season in Houghton, has led his squad to a major turnaround in 2011-12. Heading into the postseason, the Huskies are 14-18-4 overall and 11-13-4 in conference games.
“I’m extremely proud of Mel and what he’s been able to accomplish in such a short time,” said Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret. “He and his coaching staff have found a way to motivate and inspire the team, and it has made for a positive experience for our student-athletes. This has been an exciting year for Michigan Tech athletics and the entire community, and we look forward to the future.”
Pearson helped Michigan Tech more than triple its win total from a year ago (four). The Huskies were picked to finish last in the 12-team WCHA according to the preseason poll, but settled in eighth after having a chance to finish as high as fifth in the final weekend of the regular season. Michigan Tech won 11 WCHA games (after winning just eight the previous three years combined) and posted marquee wins over then No. 3 Denver (Oct. 28), No. 2 Minnesota (Dec. 9) and No. 1 Minnesota Duluth (Jan. 28) during the year.
Michigan Tech’s offense surged in 2011-12 to 2.83 goals per game from 1.97 in 2010-11. The Huskies also allowed 1.5 fewer goals per game than the previous season.
Eight different players on this year’s squad have eight goals or more after just two scored more than seven a year ago.
“I’d like to thank Suzanne, (Michigan Tech President) Glenn Mroz and (Michigan Tech Vice President for Student Affairs) Les Cook for giving me the opportunity to return to Michigan Tech,” said Pearson. “I’d like to thank my assistant coaches and staff who are very deserving in sharing this award. Mostly, I want to thank the players who went out on a nightly basis and got the job done. They’re really the reason I’m receiving this honor.
“The WCHA is a great league with so many great coaches. I feel fortunate and privileged to win this award—especially this year when there are so many who are worthy.”
Pearson is the fourth Tech coach to be selected WCHA Coach of the Year. Jamie Russell, who earned the honor in 2006-07, was the most recent. Herb Boxer gained the award in the 1987-88 season, while legendary John MacInnes won the award six times (1960, 1962, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981).
Michigan Tech will face Colorado College in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs this weekend. The best-of-three series will be played Friday (Mar. 9), Saturday (Mar. 10) and (if necessary) Sunday (Mar. 11) at Colorado Springs World Arena.
Posted by Jerry Taylor