ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mel Pearson has been named the University of Michigan’s head coach of ice hockey, the school announced Monday. Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics, made the announcement that Pearson — who will be the ninth head coach in program history — would return to Ann Arbor after previously serving 23 season as an assistant coach for the Wolverines.
A press conference will be held today at 2 p.m. in the Junge Family Champions Center to formally introduce Pearson. BTN will carry the press conference live, and it will be streamed on MGoBlue.com.
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) April 24, 2017
“I am very honored and proud for this opportunity to be the next head coach at Michigan,” said Pearson. “I am looking forward to continuing to build upon the rich and successful tradition of Michigan hockey.
“I would like to thank President Schlissel, Warde Manuel and my long-time mentor and friend Red Berenson for entrusting me with this opportunity,” added Pearson. “I spent 23 years here and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ann Arbor. I am excited to be back and am looking forward to meeting the team and getting ready for next season.
“Lastly, I would like to thank the former players, alumni and fans that have reached out to me with encouragement,” concluded Pearson.
“I am thrilled to select Mel to lead our hockey program and for him to return home to U-M following tremendous success in leading the Michigan Tech program,” said Manuel. “I’ve known Mel for years and experienced his leadership ability when I was the sport administrator for hockey and he was an assistant under Red (Berenson). Mel’s qualifications are well known throughout the hockey community and reach far beyond his ability to coach. Simply put, I couldn’t have selected a finer person to lead our ice hockey program into the future.”
“I think Mel is a great fit for Michigan hockey,” said Berenson, who remains at U-M as an advisor to Manuel following his retirement from coaching earlier in the month. “He knows the program well from his time here, and I think he is exactly what Michigan hockey needs to be successful.”
Pearson returns to Ann Arbor following an impressive six-year stint as head coach at Michigan Tech. There, he led the Huskies to two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last three years while winning a WCHA regular-season title and a WCHA Championship in that span. Pearson registered a 118-92-29 overall record, including a 75-34-14 mark over the past three seasons.
Under Pearson’s leadership, the Huskies finished the 2016-17 season ranked in the top 20 for a third consecutive year, all of them featuring 20-win campaigns. Pearson also earned two WCHA Coach of the Year honors in his time at Michigan Tech, which claimed the program’s first-ever No. 1 national ranking on Nov. 17, 2014.
Pearson served as a Michigan assistant coach from 1988-89 through 1998-99 and as associate head coach from 1999-2000 through 2010-11. He played an integral role in developing the Michigan program into one of the most successful in the country, being heavily involved in the Wolverines’ recruiting effort and helping land the core of its 1996 and 1998 NCAA championship teams. Over the course of those 23 years, the Wolverines posted a 667-243-71 record while capturing 11 Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles, nine CCHA Tournament crowns and two NCAA championships (1996 and 1998) in addition to making 11 NCAA Frozen Four appearances.
After he helped Michigan to the 1999-2000 CCHA regular-season championship, Pearson was awarded the Terry Flanagan Award by the American Hockey Coaches Association, which honors an assistant coach’s career body of work. Pearson also served as a coach with the 1996 United States World Junior Championship team, helping the Americans to a silver medal.
As a collegian, Pearson was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan Tech (1977-81), where he appeared in 97 games, accumulated 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) and helped capture the WCHA Tournament and a Great Lakes Invitational titles as a senior. Ironically, Pearson’s most “famous” goal was scored against the Wolverines in the championship game of the 1979 Great Lakes Invitational. He broke a 4-4 tie at 2:28 of the third overtime to give the Huskies the GLI title. The game still stands as the longest in the 43-year history of the tournament.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1981, Pearson remained at his alma mater to serve as an assistant ice hockey coach on the Huskies’ staff from 1982-88.
The Flin Flon, Manitoba, native comes from a hockey family. His father, George “Mel” Pearson, played 15 seasons of professional hockey with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League and with Minnesota of the World Hockey Association. His brother, Ted, played for the University of Wisconsin and spent time in the Calgary Flames organization.
Pearson and his wife, Susie, have two daughters, Kim and Sarah, and a son, Paul.