The Wolverine

October 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 53 of 67

54 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2018 STANDARD SET After A Surprising Run To The Frozen Four In Mel Pearson's Debut, Michigan Hockey Is Back For More Sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes returned to Ann Arbor despite being selected seventh overall in last June's NHL Draft. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL BY BOB MILLER T he 2018-19 version of Michi- gan's hockey team has offi- cially been dubbed Team 96, celebrating more than nine decades of performance in Ann Arbor. Forgive Mel Pearson, the second- year head coach of the program where he served as an assistant coach for 23 years, if it feels a little like Team 2 to him. Pearson returned to Ann Arbor after a short six-year interlude as head coach of Michigan Tech, his alma mater, and led the Wol- verines to a 22-15-3 record, an NCAA regional championship and the resulting Frozen Four appearance, all in his first year as Michigan head coach. It wasn't all smooth for Pear- son, though. His team strug- gled out of the gate and for the whole first half of the season before finding their legs and dominating the second half. Sitting at his desk on a hot, humid September afternoon, Pearson thought about the differences a year can make. "It does feel different this year in the sense that I feel at ease a little more," Pear- son said. "I know my way around better. As much as I felt comfortable here, when you're the head coach with every- thing going on, it was a very busy time t h a t first

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