Michigan picks former Wolverine Brandon Naurato as interim head coach for 2022-23 season

Roughly 48 hours after parting ways with Mel Pearson, the University of Michigan picked a former Wolverines player — recruited by Pearson — and assistant coach to lead their program for the coming season.

After one season as a Wolverines assistant coach, Brandon Naurato was named Michigan's interim head coach for the 2022-23 season on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.
Contributed / University of Michigan Athletics

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Brandon Naurato fulfilled the dream of many Michigan kids more than a decade ago, playing four years of hockey for the Wolverines. For at least the coming year, he will fulfill another dream, as the University of Michigan’s interim head hockey coach.

On Sunday, less than 48 hours after the school parted ways with former coach Mel Pearson , Michigan named Naurato its interim head coach for the 2022-23 season.

Naurato, 37, is originally from suburban Detroit and played for the Wolverines between 2006-09, making four trips to the NCAA tournament and one appearance in the Frozen Four.

“I am honored to lead my alma mater and will give everything I have to what is the most storied program in college hockey,” said Naurato, in a statement released by the school. “I want to thank Warde Manuel and our student-athletes for their trust and look forward to working positively with our talented coaching and support staff.”

Manuel, the Michigan athletic director, said that they were fortunate to have someone with experience available to fill in less than two months before the Wolverines begin the season. Naurato spent his first season as a Wolverines assistant coach under Pearson in 2021-22, as they won the Big Ten playoff title and advanced to the Frozen Four.


“We are fortunate to have someone of Brandon Naurato’s caliber to lead our ice hockey team for the upcoming year,” said Manuel, in a statement. “I had conversations with many individuals who care greatly about this program and appreciate the insight they shared. Brandon will do a great job leading the program, and I look forward to our student-athletes and staff benefiting from his leadership.”

Prior to returning to his alma mater, Naurato spent three years with the Detroit Red Wings organization, where he served as a player development consultant. In that role, he worked with the Red Wings and the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins coaching staffs to incorporate individual player skills into the organizational structure. He also spent seven years as the owner and director of Total Package Hockey in Detroit, which is an online hockey academy.

It took only nine ticks of the clock for Minnesota Gophers rookie Logan Cooley to give his team a lead, and that was just the beginning of their dominance of the Spartans on Friday.
Olivia King has been scratched from the lineup. She’s played forward. She’s been the No. 3 goalie. Whatever the role, King has accepted it and has prepared herself to help her team.
Four of the Minnesota Gophers' last five games have required overtime to settle, and while the fans and the players find 3-on-3 hockey to be vastly entertaining, their coach has seen enough.
When the Minnesota Gophers need to force overtime lately, they turn to the lanky guy on the blue line with the skills of a defenseman and the instincts of a forward. Also: WCHA honors Heise, Kaiser.
The Rink Live reporters discuss the Huskies move to No. 1 in the rankings, Bulldogs and Fighting Hawks staying put, entertaining Big 10 series, recap WCHA action
The Minnesota Gophers rallied twice in their Saturday game with Michigan, but could not find overtime magic for the second night in a row, settling for a split of their weekend Big Ten series.
A power-play goal in the final seconds of overtime was the difference-maker as the Minnesota Gophers came from behind for a critical Big Ten win over Michigan on Friday.
Bemidji State returned to its hometown rink for the first time since Dec. 3, but a contest back among the comforts of home didn’t fix what has ailed the Beavers.
The former CCHA and NAHL commissioner also talks about his career in hockey on The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.
The Minnesota Gophers have lost just one of their four games in 2023, but their coach says they are still feeling the effects of nearly a month off. They face a Michigan team that senses desperation.
Also: men's team members nominated for several individual awards, Tommies new home provides potential WCHA tournament options and that football team in purple breaks Bob Motzko's heart, again.
Justen Close was busy turning aside 38 Notre Dame shots -- including a trio of breakaways -- in recording the seventh shutout of his career. He was recognized by the conference for his efforts.

In 130 college games in maize and blue, he scored 32 goals and registered 32 assists. Naurato played four years in the pros, making stops at Stockton (ECHL), Toledo (ECHL), Port Huron (IHL), Fort Wayne (CHL), and Dayton (CHL).

Michigan's season begins on Oct. 1 with an exhibition game against Windsor (time to be determined) before the regular season commences on Oct. 7-8 with a home series against Lindenwood. The Wolverines were 31-10-1 last season under Pearson, whose contract expired on May 1. After the results of an independent investigation revealed numerous concerning incidents had taken place within the Wolverines program, Pearson was not offered a new contract.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
While the Minnesota Gophers were scoring even strength, power play and shorthanded goals, Justen Close was posting his fourth shutout of the season in the other end of Notre Dame's rink.
The Minnesota Gophers hopped back into Big Ten play for the first time in 2023 with the hard-fought battle versus defense-first Notre Dame, getting a tying goal in the final seconds to grab a point.
When the first dozen or so picks are made in the 2023 NHL Draft, which will be held in Nashville in June, at least one future Minnesota Gopher is expected to be selected.
A trio of recent low-scoring games may have been the perfect prep work for the Minnesota Gophers to face a Notre Dame club that has struggled to score consistently and is known for defense.