To say Bill Muckalt and Mel Pearson have some shared history would be an understatement.
With Pearson — now the head coach of the Michigan hockey team — as assistant coach, Muckalt helped lead the Wolverines to two national championships, in 1996 and 1998, as a player. Then, after a lengthy professional hockey career, Muckalt joined Pearson’s staff at Michigan Tech as an assistant coach between 2011 and 2015.
Now, the pair will be reunited once again after Michigan officially announced Muckalt’s hiring as associate head coach Tuesday.
“Billy has had great success everywhere he has coached,” Pearson said in a statement Tuesday. “Having won two national championships, he is familiar with the winning tradition of Michigan hockey.
“Billy will be a great addition to our staff, and I’m extremely excited to be bringing him back to Ann Arbor. Our players will really benefit from his experience and knowledge of the game.”
Muckalt’s rise through the coaching ranks has been remarkable. He began his coaching career in 2006 as an assistant with Eastern Michigan University; in the next four years, he would hold three head coaching jobs — with the Eagles, the Valencia Flyers of the Western States Hockey League and the New Mexico Mustangs of the North American Hockey League, respectively.
In 2011, he departed the Mustangs to become an assistant once more — this time under Pearson as he sought to rebuild the Huskies.
Under Pearson and Muckalt’s direction, Michigan Tech reached unforeseen heights, posting a nation-best 29-win season in 2014 — its first 20-win season in over 30 years — that also included a No. 1 national ranking and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Muckalt left the Huskies in 2015 to become a head coach once more — this time for the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, where he was also named general manager. In his first year, the Storm won their first-ever championship.
Muckalt’s hiring at Michigan appears to round out Pearson’s staff — one with a lot of familiar faces and ties to the program.
Brian Wiseman and Steve Shields, both of whom are also prominent alumni, will return after serving as assistant coaches under former coach Red Berenson.
“I am humbled and privileged to be back at Michigan — it’s a special place,” Muckalt said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m excited to work with Mel again and looking forward to working with Brian (Wiseman), Steve (Shields) and the rest of the staff.
“I can’t wait to start getting to know our student-athletes and helping them develop and help them reach their dreams and goals. I look forward to embracing the tradition and enriching the future of Michigan Hockey.”