Modern Powerhouse Hockey

When you think of The University of Michigan men’s hockey program, you think of a traditional NCAA powerhouse. From 1984-2017, Red Berenson was a steady hand at the wheel and the program was turned over to long-time assistant Mel Pearson from 2018-2022. Yet, the team hasn’t won a national championship since 1998.

I think that will change in the next few years… I’m excited about the hiring of Brandon Naurato. Like Don Granato… it’s only a matter of time until the “interim” tag is removed.

Brandon Naurato


Brandon is a Michigan Man. He’s from Livonia between Detroit and Ann Arbor. He played at Michigan. He worked with the USNTDP in Michigan for years. He ran TPH hockey, the first online hockey academy, in Detroit, and continues to facilitate summer training in the summer months. He worked as a player development consultant for the Detroit Red Wings. Basically, Naurato is the Godfather of SE Michigan hockey.

Last season he left Detroit and headed to Ann Arbor to join as an Assistant Coach, primarily focusing on the offensive side of the bench. Michigan was 3rd nationally in scoring offense (3.98 goals/game) & 3rd on the Power Play (27%).

Coaching Style

Naurato built his career on his endless curiosity, lifelong learning, and actively seeks out the cutting-edge of hockey. He’s had to work for everything as a player and coach. He’s built out platforms for data and video in the past and surely will do so at Michigan. They bleed directly into his coaching and how he goes about developing players and the team.

Every player has individualized development plans supported with video and analytics. Routinely you can catch Naurato referencing research and analytics. He’s not simply winging it. He has a plan and thoughtful, well-research rationale behind it all.

While many times leaning into analytics can seem gimmicky… I can tell you personally that is the exact opposite of Naurato’s personality. He’s thoughtfully using them as part of an end game to drive results for his players and his team.

The Program

On-Ice Style

When it comes to Brandon Naurato implementing changes to on-ice style, you’ll see him unleashing his talented players and letting them play.

There are principles in place via his “CPR System,” but otherwise players are free to express themselves on the rink and let their talents shine.

  • Creativity = Players having freedom to play and express themselves.

  • Predictability = Set principles and support predictability to handle pressure effectively.

  • Responsibility = Reading off each other and filling into roles well (E.g. F3 assumes the role of a pinching defenseman).

All of this allows Michigan to play assertively without hesitation.

Mental & Hockey IQ Development

Naurato is building a culture in which players can actively accelerate their development. A positive environment where players are able to fail forward. Naurato’s interviews often have a similar phrase to Bill Belichick… “we will take a look at the video tomorrow.”

Another great element of change is an updated warmup. This isn’t a finalized piece yet, but a wonderful breath of fresh air. They even include players doing Rondos.



Michigan has scored quite a few goals with similar Rondo vibes.

Given Naurato’s expertise in player development, his progressive culture building, and his willingness to implement innovative ideas… it’s only a matter of time until everyone in charge of hiring at U of M is in agreeance… it’s time to take off the interim tag.

Author, Greg Revak coaches with the University of Akron and University School (Ohio). He is a writer for and contributor to Deke University.

When not at the rink, Greg can be found breaking down videos and writing about player development on twitter @CoachRevak. Use Greg's Code: HOCKEYIQ for $25 off your purchase of a SuperDeker!

Related to Buy