Michigan hockey has officially named Bill Muckalt as assistant coach.

Muckalt, 42, spent the past two seasons as head coach of the Tri-City Storm and guided them to a U.S. Hockey League title in 2015-2016. 

The Storm announced late last month that Muckalt was leaving for “higher opportunities.” The Free Press reported at that time that he’s expected to take on an assistant role at U-M under new head coach Mel Pearson.

Muckalt said there were a number of reasons he opted to return to college as an associate head coach, rather than continue leading a USHL team

“For one, it’s Michigan,” Muckalt said. “Michigan is a special place. The opportunity to work with Mel and win a national championship (are other reasons). I went to school here. Ann Arbor is home. I’ve got a home here that I’ve never sold. Really just wanted to come home and be part of a community.”

Pearson was an assistant coach at U-M when Muckalt played for Red Berenson. Pearson hired Muckalt as an assistant at Michigan Tech and now they will work together for a third time.

“It speaks to what I think of him and how much respect I have for him,” Muckalt said. “I believe in him. 

“He put me in the National Hockey League, recruited me and gave me an opportunity as a coach and opportunity to come back home and work together.”

Muckalt was an assistant coach on Pearson’s staff at Michigan Tech for four seasons before taking the Storm job. He was also a head coach for the New Mexico Mustangs in the NAHL in 2010-201 and head coach of the Valencia Flyers of the Western States Hockey League in 2009-2010. 

Muckalt helped Michigan win NCAA titles in 1996 as a sophomore and 1998 as a senior. He was a Hobey Baker finalist and first-team All-America as a senior. He went on to score 40 goals and 57 assists for 97 points in 256 NHL games with the Canucks, Islanders, Senators and Wild. 

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