Mel Pearson Named WCHA Coach of the Year

By Wes Frahm | Published

Head Coach Mel Pearson
Head Coach Mel Pearson

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has named Michigan Tech hockey head coach Mel Pearson Coach of the Year. Now in his first season in Houghton, he has led his squad to a major turnaround in 2011-12. The Huskies are 16-18-4 overall and 13-13-4 in the WCHA heading into the postseason.

"I'm extremely proud of Mel and what he's been able to accomplish in such a short time," said Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret. "He and his coaching staff have found a way to motivate and inspire the team, and it has made for a positive experience for our student-athletes. This has been an exciting year for Michigan Tech athletics and the entire community, and we look forward to the future."

Pearson helped Michigan Tech more than triple its win total from a year ago (four). The Huskies were picked to finish last in the 12-team WCHA according to the preseason poll, but settled in eighth after having a chance to finish as high as fifth in the final weekend of the regular season. Michigan Tech won 11 WCHA games (after winning just eight the previous three years combined) and posted marquee wins over then No. 3 Denver (Oct. 28), No. 2 Minnesota (Dec. 9) and No. 1 Minnesota Duluth (Jan. 28) during the year.

Michigan Tech's offense surged in 2011-12 to 2.83 goals per game from 1.97 in 2010-11. The Huskies also allowed 1.5 fewer goals per game than the previous season.

Eight different players on this year's squad have eight goals or more after just two scored more than seven a year ago.

"I'd like to thank Suzanne, (Michigan Tech President) Glenn Mroz and (Michigan Tech Vice President for Student Affairs) Les Cook for giving me the opportunity to return to Michigan Tech," said Pearson. "I'd like to thank my assistant coaches and staff who are very deserving in sharing this award. Mostly, I want to thank the players who went out on a nightly basis and got the job done. They're really the reason I'm receiving this honor.

"The WCHA is a great league with so many great coaches. I feel fortunate and privileged to win this award—especially this year when there are so many who are worthy."

Pearson is the fourth Tech coach to be selected WCHA Coach of the Year. Jamie Russell, who earned the honor in 2006-07, was the most recent. Herb Boxer gained the award in the 1987-88 season, while legendary John MacInnes won the award six times (1960, 1962, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981).

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.