HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret has appointed former Huskies’ player and assistant coach and long-time University of Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson to the position of head hockey coach. Pearson, who spent the last 23 years at Michigan helping the Wolverines to a 667-243-71 record, 11 Frozen Fours and two national championships, will be introduced at a press conference Tuesday (May 10).
“I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity,” said Pearson. “Michigan Tech was the school that gave me my first chance not only as a player but as a coach, and I’m looking forward to working with the University, alumni and community in bringing back the winning tradition.”
“I’m thrilled that our search has led us to someone with the quality background of Mel,” said Sanregret. “He has extensive experience in all aspects of college hockey, but his reputation as a recruiter made him our top candidate. He has contacts within all of hockey from juniors to the professional ranks, and he’s well connected to our alumni.”
Pearson, a former winner of the Terry Flanagan Award which honors an assistant coach’s career, has been hailed as one of the best recruiters in the nation. He was credited with landing the bulk of the players on Michigan’s 1996 and 1998 NCAA championship teams, and has recruited dozens of All-Americans and several Hobey Baker finalists during his time in Ann Arbor. A total of 54 Michigan players have gone on to play in the NHL since 1988.
“Michigan Tech is committed to the hockey program,” said Tech president Glenn Mroz. “Mel shares our goal of returning the program to national prominence, and I’m confident in his ability to develop a program we can be proud of both on and off the ice. We are grateful for the financial support of alumni who partnered with us to make it possible to bring Mel to Tech.”
“As a former student-athlete here, Mel knows what it takes to be successful at Michigan Tech,” added Les Cook, vice president for student affairs. “I think that background will help him both in recruiting and mentoring our student-athletes.”
Pearson began as assistant coach under Red Berenson in Ann Arbor in 1988 and was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 1999-2000 season. His official duties included working with the forwards and power play. He also served as the program’s lead recruiter, working mainly with the US National Development Team, the United States Hockey League and within Michigan and Ontario.
During Pearson’s stint at Michigan, the Wolverines won 11 CCHA regular season titles, 9 CCHA playoff championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament a record 21 consecutive times from 1991-2011. The Wolverines played in the NCAA title game a month ago, losing to Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in overtime.
Pearson, who was born in Vancouver, B.C., moved to Minnesota as a youth and played hockey at Edina High School. He was recruited by John MacInnes and played for the legendary coach at Michigan Tech from 1977-81. A forward, Pearson put up 56 points (21-35–56) in 97 career games in a Black and Gold sweater and also earned a degree in business administration while in Houghton. One of his playing highlights included scoring the game-winning goal in the championship game of the 1979 Great Lakes Invitational. The tally broke a 4-all deadlock to beat Michigan in the longest game in the history of the 44-year tournament.
In 1982, Pearson was hired as an assistant coach at Michigan Tech. He worked under Jim Nahrgang and Herb Boxer during his six-year stay in Houghton. He was responsible for recruiting many high profile players to Tech including Randy McKay, Scott White, Damian Rhodes and Shawn Harrison.
Outside of the collegiate world, Pearson served as a coach with the 1996 United States World Junior Championship team, which earned a silver medal, the country’s best finish at the event at the time. He has also worked numerous USA Select festivals and Michigan Select festivals as head coach, evaluator and assistant coach.
Pearson and his wife, Susie, have three children—Kim (25), Sarah (22) and Paul (19).
“I had a great experience as a student-athlete at Tech, and I want my players to have those same experiences,” said Pearson. “I look forward to getting to know the team and building upon the foundation for a successful program.”
Pearson will begin his duties as the 21st head hockey coach in Michigan Tech history on May 16.