College Hockey:
Longtime Michigan assistant Pearson new coach at Michigan Tech

Mel Pearson, who spent the last 23 years as an assistant coach at Michigan, is about to lead a team on his own.

Pearson has been named head coach at Michigan Tech, his alma mater, the school announced Friday. He will be introduced in a Houghton, Mich., news conference Tuesday.

Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson. (DarylMarshke/WolverinePhoto)

Mel Pearson is moving from Michigan to Michigan Tech (photo: Daryl Marshke/Wolverine Photo).

“I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity,” Pearson said in a statement. “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.”

Pearson replaces Jamie Russell, who resigned in March after the Huskies finished 4-30-4.

Michigan Tech has had one winning season in the last 18, that coming under Russell in 2006-07. (See Michigan Tech team history.)

In 23 seasons as an assistant to Red Berenson at Michigan, the Wolverines were 667-243-71, appeared in the Frozen Four 11 times and won two national championships.

“I’m thrilled that our search has led us to someone with the quality background of Mel,” Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret said in a statement. “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, who starts his new role on May 16, was reported to be close to accepting the job last month but reportedly backed away.

He was recruited to play at Michigan Tech by John MacInnes and skated for the Huskies from 1977 to 1981. He scored 21 goals and 56 points in 97 career games. The most notable collegiate goal he scored may have been the winner in the 1979 Great Lakes Invitational championship game against Michigan.

Pearson became a Huskies assistant coach in 1982 and worked under Jim Nahrgang and Herb Boxer during a six-year tenure.

In 1988, he joined Michigan as an assistant coach and was promoted to associate head coach in 1999.

“It is a good opportunity for Mel to get a head coaching job at his alma mater,” Berenson said in a statement released by Michigan. “He’s been a great asset to the Michigan hockey program in his 23 years of service. We’re going to miss him but part of this whole process is to help people move up and develop into head coaches. It’s an opportunity that he decided was right for him.”

In 2000, he was named the recipient of the Terry Flanagan Award, recognizing an assistant coach’s body of work.

“Michigan Tech is committed to the hockey program,” school president Glenn Mroz said in a statement. “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.”

The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

Please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum. Your posts will more than likely be deleted, and worse yet, you reflect badly on yourself, your favorite team and your conference.

  • Streve R

    An excellent choice. About time Tech came to it’s senses and hired a quality coach after two decades of wandering.

  • Yooper Finn

    As a native of the Copper Country, a Tech alum, and a huge hockey fan I applaud the hiring of Mel Pearson!!!! Congrats to the AD and the Pres, and thank you to the alumni who stepped up! Hope University Images is stocked up on Huskies gear!

  • Matt4466

    He will be regretting this decision. This program has little to no change of sucesss even with gophers and badgers leaving the conference shortly.. He should have taken a job in one of the creme puff leagues (ECAC or AHA). Thats probably why he initially backed off the job, but didn’t get any better offers. His resume will be tarnished after getting fired after 3 losing seasons. Should have held out for a better place even if a WCHA job pays slightly better.

    • Bob

      Plus who wants to live in Houghton.

      • Guest

        Mel, apparently. :p

      • Yooper Finn

        Obviously Bob hasn’t spent much time in Houghton. Houghton has some of the cleanest air in the lowest 48, a low crime rate, outstanding schools, friendly people, a more moderate climate than Minnesota, Wisconsin or North Dakota (summer highs in the 70′s, winter lows in the teens), and is 10 miles away from the largest fresh water lake in the world. It’s paradise for anyone who loves scenic beauty and the outdoors. As for snow, if it’s going to be cold, you may as well have snow. At least you can enjoy winter activities.

      • Jimmynot THAT jimmy

        I do. Only if I could convince my company to set up shop there. Its a fantastic place.

    • Yooper Finn

      I couldn’t disagree more. The facitilites at Tech are first rate and the the area is hockey crazy. Calumet is home to one of the most successful high school programs in the state and Houghton is the birthplace of professional hockey. If you want a measure of how much buzz this coaching vacancy has created look at how many people have visited the MTU forums on this website. This program WILL be back.

      • Bulldog Fan in Circle Pines

        First Class facilities? We go and see the Bulldogs play every year in Houghton and while I wouldn’t call MacInnes Arena a dump it certainly isn’t close to being in the same league as the home rinks of UND, UMD, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Denver. And yes I have been to all those rinks (minus Denver). I understand This is not an attack on Michigan Tech. They have by far the most well behaved fans in college hockey. Its a great road tip and I would advised every WCHA fan to make a trip there at least once. I just think its going to be very difficult for Tech to complete in the WCHA going forward. They probably would be much more competitive in the CCHA.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LYB6EU4FE5AF72QXKPAWJ3MVUA Paul M

          Houghton( MTU) doesn’t have the resources to build a new facility. They are not the size of Grand Forks, Duluth, the Twin Cities, Madison, or Denver. The state of Michigan can’t help finance a new arena like Minnesota… as they are broke…. just so you know. For the size of the university, they have a pretty nice facility and are slowly doing some upgrade to it. Hopefully with Mel Pearson they can turn the program around.

          • Bulldog Fan in Circle Pines

            I completely agree with you. MacInnes Arena is kept in good shape. Don’t get me wrong I hope Tech can turn it around. It would be great for college and like I said before the fans in Houghton are long over due. As long as they lose to the Bulldogs everytime. :)

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LYB6EU4FE5AF72QXKPAWJ3MVUA Paul M

            As a Tech fan, beating the 2011 National Champions would be awesome for us this comming year. Congratulations on a great year…. another NCAA title for the WCHA. Hopefully soon, Tech can make some noise

          • Jimmy not THAT jimmy

            Personally I think they should play one game a year at the Dee.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LYB6EU4FE5AF72QXKPAWJ3MVUA Paul M

            That is a good idea for old-time-sake. Only thing is, capacity is only 1200-1500 maybe. Never saw a Tech games there as a kid. Don’t think they would do it. $$$

        • Guest

          If you could look behind the scenes, the locker room, weight room, and other facilities are competitive at least with the bottom half of the WCHA. Realistically, no one is asking for 30-win seasons and national titles. We just want a competitive team, and I think Mel can certainly give us that, and perhaps a little more.

        • Yooper Finn

          UMD just built a new arena. They didn’t have trouble recruiting before. No one can compete with the Taj Mahal in Grand Forks. Minnesota and Wisconsin will soon be in the Big 10. Tech’s arena is as nice as Mankato’s or St. Cloud’s, or Michigan State’s. It’s just smaller. Tech’s beats Michigan’s Yost Arena hands down. But all of this is from a fan’s perspective. From a player standpoint, Tech’s locker room and attached Grant Hockey Education Center is first rate, as is the attached Student Development complex with gyms, pools, weight rooms, etc. Tech also has it’s own ski hill and 18 hole golf course. Let’s not forget how much Tech’s great Pep Band adds to home games.

  • johnak

    The fact that Peason decided to accept the position may have alot to do with what Berenson may have told him about his coaching plans. As associate head coach at Michigan, he would have probably decided to stay if Red were leaving in the next couple of years. However, if Red plans to stay more than 1 or 2 more seasons then it would be worth it to go someplace and build your head coaching resume, even if his ultimate goal is to come back to Michigan after Red retires.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LYB6EU4FE5AF72QXKPAWJ3MVUA Paul M

      I think if Mel is successful at Tech, he stays. After 5 years he will be in his later 50′s. Would he want to move on again? I guess time will tell what he finally decides to do.

  • Copperhead

    As far as coaching in a cream puff league like the ECAC, I’d say just coach at North Dakota. You don’t have to win anymore. You don’t have to worry about your student athletes maintaining GPAs or staying within the law

  • Fauxrealism

    We can’t even discuss a new coaching hire in the Midwest without taking a shot at the ECAC or AHA? Unreal. Show a little class and stop it with the potshots aimed at hard-working 20ish yr old kids & some of esteemed universities and college.

    • Willis

      Yes..those poor 20-yr old (many canadian) kids with there full ride scholorships to play a sport for teams that lose more money then women’s sports. Boo hoo. I’m sure the other students at these schools are happy to know that there tuition dollars are going to help educate canadian hockey players that probably couldn’t care less about their education. To be fair, the WCHA probably has as many canadians as other leagues but the difference is that the teams in the WCHA actually make money for the the school and program pays for itself and then some.

  • Ljolson

    Coach Pearson is a quality person,and he will do an excellent job at his alma mater.Credit our outstanding President and AD for making this all possible.The Olson family wishes Coach Pearson all the luck in the world!!! Mike Olson, son of Marc Olson.Marc was a 3-time MVP at MTU in 1948-50.

  • Dimes

    Growing up in NW Ohio and a BGSU alum (ROLL ALONG!) I have been to numerous GLI’s and nearly every time rooting for Tech. It would be great to see them raise their game and make a fantastic tournament even better. Good luck Huskies!

  • Realist

    I have to agree with those who are essentially saying that Mel is going to be the next in a long line of whipping boys behind the bench at MTU. It used to be that good hockey players wanted to be engineers. Now good hockey players want to go to U of M and major in Kiniesology or some other BS major while waiting for the call to go make millions in the NHL. It wasn’t like that in the 70s, and Tech could compete. I would not be surprised to see Tech drop hockey within the next 20 years. At that point all the alums that really care and have enough money to continue to fund the program will be gone.

    • Yooper Finn

      A realist entering college hockey will understand that the education that he’s about to receive will likely carry him much farther than hockey. While all D1 players dream of playing in the NHL, less than 5% will get there. That being said, most Tech players don’t major in engineering but rather in Business Administration. People talk like Tech is the only smaller school with D1 hockey. I know that they can and will compete again. When you’re a hockey player at Tech, you’re the big man on campus. It’s not football or basketball; it’s hockey.

    • Yooper Finn

      There is no reason why Tech can’t compete. Tech has 7800 undergrads, more than 42% or 25 of the other D1 programs, more than Lake Superior State, Colorado College, Bemidji and Denver, and Alaska-Fairbanks is about the same size.

      • Jon1145

        Tech is geographically and academically

        If you want to be and engineer and go
        to a small school, RPI wants you, Clarkson wants you.

        If you want to major in Business every
        other small D1 school wants you.

        Colorado College? I do not think you
        can compare Colorado Springs to Houghton to an 18 year old.

        • Yooper Finn

          Sorry. RPI and Clarkson don’t compete a whole heck of a lot for Midwest talent, just like Midwestern schools don’t recruit a lot out east. As I typed above, many Tech players major in business admin. Not everyone wants to live in Colorado Springs, nor can they. Minnesota and Michigan represent the largest recruiting pool in the nation, not to mention Canada.

North Dakota 2016 National ChampionsBNY Mellon Wealth Management