Ron Mason. If you live in the State of Michigan, or have any connection to the old CCHA, you know how much he meant to hockey. Mason’s impact wasn’t limited to his tenure at Michigan State either, while that is what many will remember him for.
Ron Mason made an impact on programs and people. He truly was a great person and coach.
I haven’t seen Ron in about three years, but the last time I did was spent evaluating players for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL as he was a consultant for them. Truthfully I spent more time picking his brain on things then I did actually watching that year.
He was a wealth of information. Tricks of the trade, he knew them all. Pitfalls for players to avoid that not everyone was aware of, he knew those too. Someone who looked to impart all the knowledge he had accumulated over decades of playing and teaching was who he had become in semi-retirement. Needless to say it was the most enjoyable camp I have ever been to.
Many of you may not know that not only did Ron Mason Coach at Michigan State but he was a driving force of hockey in the United States for many years before hockey even gained a real foothold in NCAA sports.
In 1966 Mason founded the Lake Superior State Hockey Program. Six years later LSSU won its first NAIA league championship.
In 1973 Mason moved to Bowling Green State University. BGSU secured its first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament four years later. It was the first time a team not from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference had appeared in the NCAA tournament’s 30 year history.
Mason would then go on to replace Amo Bessone as Michigan State’s head coach in 1979. All he did then was become the winningest coach in college hockey history thanks to a 6-5 win over Kent State on March 12, 1993, moving past former Boston College coach Len Ceglarski’s previous record of 673 wins.
At the end his 36 year coaching career he was named the American Hockey Coaches Association National Coach of the Year once (1992), and CCHA coach of the year seven times.
Beyond developing some incredible hockey players that would go on to dominate in the NHL, Mason was proud of having developed some incredible young men. Young men that went on to impact their communities in positives ways, who remain involved with Michigan State through the Alumni Association.
Ron Mason was an icon in NCAA hockey circles, and his impact will be one that is everlasting as the programs and people he became a part of continue in the same tradition of excellence he instilled within them.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher