by Topher Nowak
Special to The Pit
Coach Mel Pearson enters his first season as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines after spending 23 seasons as an assistant coach to legendary coach Red Berenson.
When asked about what it felt like being named the new man in charge at Yost Arena?
“Awesome. A long time coming.”
Yes, coach, it has been a long time coming.
Coach Pearson left the Wolverines after 23 seasons to become to head coach of his alma mater Michigan Tech Huskies in which he lead them to two of the last three NCAA Hockey Tournaments. Pearson takes over a Michigan program after a tough 2016-17 season where the Wolverines seemed to struggle with consistency on offense, defense and goaltending.
During Coach Pearson’s inaugural press conference, he would describe the becoming the head coach as getting the keys to the family car.
Pearson spoke about that after the first week of practice, saying, “It’s a new car, and we are still finding out what it is capable of, but it’s in good shape.”
One of the biggest qualities that you’ll notice about Pearson is his overwhelming charisma and confidence, not only about his players but the squad in general. This week, Michigan was picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll.
Pearson, of course, felt differently when speaking at Media Day.
“That’s how they view us and that’s their opinion,” Pearson said. “We have a lot to prove. I’m not a forecaster [but] I’d pick us to win the league.”
“We should be disappointed in where we are chosen.”
Plenty of comings and going can be expected with a changing of the guard, and one of the biggest in this instance for the Wolverines’ program is the return of coach Bill Muckalt. Pearson not only recruited Muckhalt to play at Michigan, but also to be his assistant coach at Michigan Tech, and will again be part of his staff in Ann Arbor.
Pearson spoke about having Muckhalt on his coaching staff. “[I’m] excited he is on board,” he said. “He brings a comfort level.”
We know that assistant coaches aren’t always looked as a key to any coaching changes to a program but they can help players get more acclimated into the Coach Pearson’s scheme. Pearson and Muckalt join Coach Shields and Weissman who remain on the staff from Coach Berenson’s final season which will also help transition the players.
Pearson and the Michigan Wolverines open the regular season on the road against Clarkston and St. Lawrence and will return home to face the Vermont Catamounts on October 20 and 21.