Mel Pearson

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Mel Pearson
Mel Pearson 2011 (cropped).jpg
Sport(s) Ice hockey
Current position
Title Head Coach
Team Michigan
Conference B1G
Biographical details
Born (1959-02-08) February 8, 1959 (age 58)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Alma mater Michigan Technological University
Playing career
1977–81 Michigan Tech
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1982–88 Michigan Tech (assistant)
1988–99 Michigan (assistant)
1999–2011 Michigan (associate head)
2011–2017 Michigan Tech
2017–present Michigan
Head coaching record
Overall 118–92–29
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
1994 CCHA Tournament Champion
1996 CCHA Tournament Champion
1996 NCAA National Champion
1997 CCHA Tournament Champion
1998 NCAA National Champion
1999 CCHA Tournament Champion
2002 CCHA Tournament Champion
2003 CCHA Tournament Champion
2005 CCHA Tournament Champion
2008 CCHA Tournament Champion
2010 CCHA Tournament Champion
2017 WCHA Tournament Champion
Awards
2000 Terry Flanagan Award
2012 WCHA Coach of the Year
2014–15 College Hockey News Coach of the Year
2016 WCHA Coach of the Year

Melvin K. Pearson (born February 8, 1959) is a former college ice hockey player and is the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines men's ice hockey team. Pearson played for Michigan Tech from 1977 to 1981, then served as an assistant coach for the team from 1982 to 1988. Following the 1987–88 season, he spent 23 years as an assistant coach and associate head coach at Michigan under Red Berenson before returning to Michigan Tech as head coach in 2011.

Early years and playing career[edit]

(L–R) Rick Boehm, Al Mickalich, Tim Watters and Mel Pearson display the third place trophy after defeating Northern Michigan at the 1981 NCAA Tournament.

Mel Pearson was born in Vancouver on February 8, 1959, the son of Vancouver Canucks player George "Mel" Pearson. His father's playing career ended in 1973 as a member of the Minnesota Fighting Saints, and Mel, who had been playing since the age of six, played hockey in suburban Minneapolis at Edina East High School under coach Willard Ikola.[1] Pearson was recruited to play college hockey by both Michigan and Michigan Tech, and he ultimately chose Michigan Tech after visiting the campus and "[falling] in love with the place".[1] While on his visit, Pearson met with coach John MacInnes, who "made me feel so welcome, and I knew I wanted to play for him right away".[1] Pearson played forward for Michigan Tech from 1977 to 1981 and scored 21 goals among 56 points in 97 games.[2] As a senior, he helped the team advance to the semifinal of the 1981 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, where the team lost to Minnesota. Michigan Tech won the Great Lakes Invitational tournament four times in Pearson's four years as a player. He scored the tournament-winning goal in triple overtime against Michigan in 1979.[3] Pearson graduated from Michigan Tech in 1981 with a degree in business administration.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

Michigan Tech (1982–88)[edit]

In 1982, Michigan Tech promoted assistant coach Jim Nahrgang to head coach following MacInnes's retirement. Nahrgang and assistant coach Herb Boxer, who had both served on MacInnes's coaching staff during Pearson's time as a player, sought out Pearson to fill the other coaching position. "[T]hey were the ones that really got me into coaching. I hadn't really thought about being a coach until they approached me", Pearson said.[1] In addition to his on-ice responsibilities, Pearson recruited players including eventual National Hockey League (NHL) regulars Randy McKay and Damian Rhodes, and Michigan Tech's first Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) scoring champion, Shawn Harrison.[1][4] Pearson retained his assistant coach position when Boxer replaced Nahrgang, who resigned in February 1985, as head coach. During Pearson's tenure as assistant coach, Michigan Tech accumulated a record of 97–136–9. The team neither advanced beyond the first round of the WCHA playoffs nor qualified for the NCAA tournament.[4]

Michigan (1988–2011)[edit]

After the 1987–88 season, Pearson accepted the position of assistant coach with the Michigan Wolverines under Red Berenson, who had just completed his fourth season as head coach. Pearson and fellow assistant Larry Pedrie focused heavily on recruiting, describing their typical schedule thusly: "We'd practice, get in the car, go see a game somewhere, play our games on the weekend, then get back in the car to see a prospect play on Sunday night."[5] The coaching staff's recruiting diligence, which continued after Pedrie left and his position was filled by David Shand and then Billy Powers, paid off. Beginning in 1991, the Wolverines qualified for every NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship tournament for the remainder of Pearson's tenure. They advanced to the Frozen Four in eleven of those tournaments, and won the national championship in 1996 and 1998. More than fifty of the players Pearson helped recruit to Michigan have gone on to play in the NHL.[6]

In 1996, Pearson was a candidate for the head coaching position at Michigan Tech, but his former teammate Tim Watters was appointed instead.[7] Later that year, Jeff Jackson named Pearson one of his assistant coaches for the US men's national junior ice hockey team that competed in the 1997 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[8] The team lost the championship game to Canada, but its second place finish was its best in the event until it won the championship in 2004. Pearson interviewed for and was offered the head coaching position at Miami University in 1999, but he turned down the job that later went to Enrico Blasi. His decision to stay at Michigan was quickly followed by a raise and promotion to associate head coach. "We're doing it to recognize [his] loyalty to the program", Berenson said.[9] The following year Pearson received the Terry Flanagan Award, which recognizes an assistant coach's career body of work, from the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).[10] When asked in 2007 why he had stayed at Michigan for so long, Pearson said, "[Berenson] gives us a lot of responsibility. He lets us be hands-on. And, you have a chance to win every year. I don't have an ego where I need to be a head coach."[11] After Michigan's loss to Minnesota–Duluth in the 2011 National Championship game, however, Michigan Tech pursued Pearson for its vacant head coaching position.

Michigan Tech (2011–17)[edit]

Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret had been given the authority and resources to "go after the best coach" following Jamie Russell's resignation in March 2011,[12] and she interviewed Pearson, Nebraska–Omaha associate coach Mike Hastings[13] and Green Bay (USHL) head coach Eric Rud.[14] Pearson's interview took place four days after the loss to Minnesota–Duluth, and when Sanregret gave him 48 hours to decide whether to accept the position, he ultimately could not say yes. "[W]ith everything going on, it was just a tough time to make ... a life-changing decision", Pearson said. "So I just think I went with the safe way and said no".[15]

Sanregret continued the search after Pearson turned down the job, but she met with Pearson again in early May at the AHCA convention in Naples, Florida, and this time he was ready to accept an offer and become the twenty-first head coach in the Huskies' 91 years of college hockey.[16] Pearson signed a five-year contract[15] and was introduced at the Grant Hockey Educational Center on Michigan Tech's campus on May 10.[17] At the press conference, Pearson posited that what separates him from the previous alumni who have returned to coach the Huskies is his 30 years of experience. "As you're in the game longer you get a bigger network of people who can help you recruit, so I think that's the biggest difference right now", Pearson said.[17] He hired Bill Muckalt, a veteran of five NHL seasons who was coached by Pearson at Michigan, as an assistant coach in June and retained Damon Whitten as the other assistant coach. "Our coaching staff has done a lot of winning and we want to instill the attitude that we're going to win", Whitten said.[18] Pearson spoke of changing the team's style of play to emphasize skill, speed and offensive creativity, and said his staff's efforts would be focused on recruiting for the next few months.[18] He brought in Steve Shields, another former NHL player who played under Pearson at Michigan, as a volunteer goaltending coach in September.[19]

On September 24, 2014, Michigan Tech announced a five-year extension for Pearson, keeping him signed through the 2020–21 season.[20]

Michigan (2017–present)[edit]

On April 24, 2017, Pearson was announced as the new head coach at the University of Michigan.[21]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Michigan Tech Huskies (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) (2011–2017)
2011–12 Michigan Tech 16–19–4 11–13–4 8th WCHA Quarterfinals
2012–13 Michigan Tech 13–20–4 8–16–4 10th WCHA First Round
2013–14 Michigan Tech 14–19–7 12–11–5 5th WCHA First Round
2014–15 Michigan Tech 29–10–2 21–5–2 2nd WCHA Runner-Up
NCAA West Regional Semifinals
2015–16 Michigan Tech 23–9–5 18–7–3 T–1st WCHA Semifinals
2016–17 Michigan Tech 23–15–7 15–7–6 2nd WCHA Champion
NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals
Michigan Tech: 118–92–29 85–59–24
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) (2017–present)
2017–18 Michigan
Total: 118–92–29

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Frahm, Wes (Fall 2011). "The Mel Pearson File". Michigan Tech Magazine. Michigan Technological University. 48 (4): 14–16. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Mel Pearson hockey statistics & profile". hockeyDB.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ Moloney, Ryan C. (April 2, 2001). "Second in command: Mel Pearson remains right at home as Michigan hockey's No. 2 man". The Michigan Daily. Ann Arbor. ISSN 0745-967X. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Section 2". 2010–11 Hockey Yearbook (PDF). Michigan Technological University. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ Bacon, John U. (2001). Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-472-06781-7. OCLC 46240239. 
  6. ^ White, Rob (February 8, 2012). "Pearson's return helps revive Michigan Tech". Omaha World-Herald. ISSN 0276-4962. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Report: Pearson turn Tech down". The Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, Michigan. April 19, 2011. OCLC 9940134. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Mahoney, Larry; Holyoke, John (November 21, 1996). "Cronin dispels rumors: No offer from USA Hockey to consider". Bangor Daily News. ISSN 0892-8738. 
  9. ^ Grandstaff, Chris (January 20, 1999). "Michigan hockey will miss Peach against Notre Dame". The Michigan Daily. Ann Arbor. ISSN 0745-967X. 
  10. ^ "ACHA Major Awards". American Hockey Coaches Association. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  11. ^ Goricki, David (December 28, 2007). "Berenson has plenty of help". The Detroit News. p. D3. ISSN 1055-2715. 
  12. ^ Warvie, K.D. (March 18, 2011). "Russell reflects on walking away". The Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, Michigan. OCLC 9940134. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  13. ^ White, Rob (December 28, 2011). "Hastings not in a hurry to take over Mavs". Omaha World-Herald. ISSN 0276-4962. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  14. ^ Hodkiewicz, Weston (April 27, 2011). "Gamblers coach Rud interviews for Michigan Tech job". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. B.1. 
  15. ^ a b Cunningham, Pete (May 6, 2011). "Mel Pearson says championship loss delayed his decision to take Michigan Tech job, discusses possibility of returning to Michigan". AnnArbor.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ Kukkonen, Zach (May 7, 2011). "Tech gets its coach". The Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, Michigan. OCLC 9940134. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Warvie, K.D. (May 11, 2011). "Tech travels same road". The Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, Michigan. OCLC 9940134. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Anderson, Stephen (June 25, 2011). "Forward into a new era". The Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, Michigan. OCLC 9940134. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Tech adds goalie coach Shields" (Press release). Michigan Tech Department of Athletic Communications and Marketing. September 14, 2011. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Michigan Tech locks up Pearson with contract extension through 2020–21 season" (Press release). United States College Hockey Online. September 24, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  21. ^ Sipple, George (April 24, 2017). "Michigan Tech's Mel Pearson named new Michigan hockey coach". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Mel Pearson career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Dean Blais
Mike Hastings
WCHA Coach of the Year
2011–12
2015–16
Succeeded by
Mike Hastings
Tom Serratore