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At Least Seven New Faces Expected Behind NCAA Hockey Benches Next Year

By Randy Lucenti on May 18, 2017

After serving as head coach of the Michigan Tech Huskies for the past six seasons, Flin Flon, Man. native Mel Pearson has been named bench boss of the University of Michigan Wolverines. (University of Michigan Photography)

After just four head coaching changes prior to the 2016-17 NCAA Division 1 men's hockey season, the bench boss carousel has almost doubled this off season.

Six teams have already announced their choices heading into 2017-18 while another is still in the process. Of those six, four have Canadian roots.

The biggest news from south of the border was the naming of Flin Flon, Man. native Mel Pearson as the replacement for legendary coach Red Berenson with the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Berenson, who was born in Regina, Sask., guided the fortunes of the Wolverines over the past 33 years. His teams qualified for the NCAA tournament for 22 consecutive seasons (1991 to 2012), appeared in the Frozen Four 11 times and captured two national crowns.

Pearson, who becomes the ninth head coach in program history, is no stranger in Ann Arbor, having served as an assistant coach for 11 years (1988 to 1999) and as associate head coach to Berenson for 12 campaigns (1999 to 2011) before heading to Michigan Tech where he has been the head coach of the Huskies for the past six seasons.

"I am looking forward to continuing to build upon the rich and successful tradition of Michigan hockey, " said Pearson, during his introduction.

"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. "

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. Pearson registered a 118-92-29 overall record, including a 75-34-14 mark over the past three seasons. 

He played four seasons of college hockey at Michigan Tech (1977 to 1981) and then began his coaching career as an assistant with the Huskies (1982 to 1988) before joining the Wolverines.

The hunt for his replacement at Michigan Tech is currently underway.

A pair of Ontario-born coaches were involved in a transition involving the Canisius Golden Griffins.

After 12 seasons at the helm of the Griffins, Arthur native Dave Smith jumped ship for a similar position with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPA) Engineers, opening the door for assistant coach Trevor Large from Brampton to be promoted to the top post.

Smith guided the Griffins to their first regular season title in 2016-17 with a record of 21-11-7 and was named Atlantic Hockey coach of the year. Large, who becomes the seventh coach in program history, has served as an assistant to Smith for the past three seasons.

Another Canadian, Mike Gabinet from Edmonton, Alta., has taken over the head coaching duties with the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks. He spent one season as an assistant with the Mavs and previously coached at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

The other two new faces behind the bench in 2016-17 will be Jason Lammers with the University of Niagara Purple Eagles and Grant Potulny with the University of Northern Michigan Wildcats.

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By Randy Lucenti| May 18, 2017
Categories:  College
Keywords:  NCAA

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