A proven winner at the collegiate and professional levels as both a player and coach, Gordon "Red" Berenson completed his 28th season as head coach of the University of Michigan ice hockey program in 2011-12.
Since taking over a struggling program in 1984, Berenson has kept the Wolverines in the upper echelon of college ice hockey. He directed Michigan to the 1996 and 1998 NCAA National Championships -- the eighth and ninth in school history.
Under Berenson, the Wolverines have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 22 seasons, marking the longest streak ever in college hockey. Over that time, Michigan has reached the NCAA Frozen Four 11 times: back-to-back appearances in 1992 and 1993; four consecutive appearances in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998; three consecutive showings between 2001-03, 2008 and 2011. Besides 1996 and 1998 U-M also reached the national title game in 2011, losing 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth.
Berenson has also established the Wolverines as a power in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), leading the team to first- or second-place finishes 20 times in 22 seasons from 1991-2012. Michigan has captured 11 CCHA regular-season titles and nine CCHA Tournament titles. On six occasions the Maize and Blue has swept the CCHA regular season and postseason titles, last doing so in 2007-08. U-M's most recent and most improbable CCHA Tournament crown came in 2010. After placing seventh in the regular season, U-M won six straight CCHA playoff games, including two at Michigan State and a semifinal upset of top-seeded Miami, to receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. U-M's last regular season crown was in 2010-11, when it won its final six games to overtake Notre Dame.
Berenson, who has fashioned a 752-352-77 record (.670) in 28 seasons with the Wolverines, is the sixth collegiate ice hockey coach to record 700 career victories, reaching the milestone with a 4-1 win at Bowling Green on Oct. 8, 2010. Berenson's 752 victories place him fifth on the NCAA ice hockey coaches all-time win list. He stood behind the U-M bench for the 1,000th time of his career on Feb. 22, 2008 at Michigan State.
In 2008, Berenson earned the American Hockey Coaches Association's Spencer Penrose Award as the National Coach of the Year for the first time in his tenure at Michigan. The 2007-08 U-M squad went 33-6-4, reached the NCAA Frozen Four, won the CCHA regular season and tournament championships and boasted the Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner, Kevin Porter. Berenson also earned the CCHA's Coach of the Year laurel for the second time of his career (1994).
For his outstanding service to hockey in the United States, the NHL honored Berenson and four others with the Lester Patrick Award in the fall of 2006.
Michigan ice hockey has earned its reputation for success with impressive showings against conference and national competition. From 1988-96, Michigan won nine consecutive Great Lakes Invitational championships. The Wolverines have won 15 GLI crowns - the most of any program - and have captured four of the last five titles.
In the 17 years of the College Hockey Showcase -- a Thanksgiving tournament that pits U-M and Michigan State versus Minnesota and Wisconsin -- the Maize and Blue has the highest win total (20) and the highest winning percentage (.603, 20-13-1) record against the Golden Gophers and Badgers. Since the 1990-91 season -- when U-M's 22-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances started -- Berenson has guided the Wolverines to an impressive 103-39-7 (.715) record against non-conference, regular-season opponents.
Adding to the legend of Berenson's tenure with the Michigan program is an incident from the 1999 East Regional in Worcester, Mass. In the first tournament game, U-M trailed the University of Denver 3-0 at the 17:44 mark of the second period. Berenson called a timeout which some say changed that game more than any other timeout they had ever witnessed. When play resumed, Michigan held Denver to a single shot on goal for the remaining 22:16 of the game while scoring five goals to take the win and advance to the second round of the tournament. Before the team arrived home in Ann Arbor, calls and e-mails were pouring into the ice hockey office inquiring what coach Berenson told his players in that huddle.
Berenson is the fourth former Michigan ice hockey captain to coach the Wolverines' program, accepting the position from athletic director Don Canham in May 1984. A three-year U-M varsity letterwinner under head coach Al Renfrew, Berenson is one of the top players in Wolverine ice hockey history, earning All-America and Michigan Most Valuable Player honors in both his junior and senior seasons (1961, '62).
As a senior, Berenson led the Wolverines to a second-place finish in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and third place at the NCAA National Championships. Berenson led the WCHA in scoring with 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) in 18 games, and was named the league's MVP. Berenson completed his Wolverine career by scoring a season record 70 points (43 goals and 27 assists) in just 28 games. His 43 goals and nine hat tricks in his last season still stand as Michigan records. (Berenson scored his 43 goals in 28 games, but shares the record with Dave Debol who scored 43 goals in his 1976-77 All-American season while playing 45 games.)
Following his final Michigan contest in the 1962 NCAA Consolation Game win vs. St. Lawrence, Berenson was driven from Utica, N.Y., to Boston where he played for the Montreal Canadiens at the Boston Garden the next night. He played in nine games for Montreal in the last month of the 1961-62 season, becoming the first collegiate player to step immediately into the National Hockey League.
Berenson holds two degrees from the University of Michigan, his bachelor's degree from the School of Business Administration in 1962 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1966. He returned to Ann Arbor from Montreal one day after the Canadiens' 1965 Stanley Cup championship parade to begin graduate classes. The commitment to education Berenson illustrated over three decades ago remains an integral part of the Wolverine ice hockey program as Michigan's graduation rate has ranked near the top of collegiate ice hockey since 1984.
Berenson played in the NHL for 17 years as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He accumulated 261 goals and 397 assists in 987 games -- the most by any Michigan alumnus in the NHL -- leaving an indelible mark on league history. Berenson scored at least 20 goals in seven NHL seasons.
On Nov. 7, 1968, while playing for the St. Louis Blues in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Berenson scored six goals, including four over a nine-minute span. The six-goal effort was one shy of the all-time NHL record, and marked the first time since 1944 that an individual had scored six goals in an NHL game. It is a feat that has been accomplished only once since. In that game, Berenson also set the NHL records for most goals in a road game and most goals in a period (four), records which stand today. Only eight other NHL players, including the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Bryan Trottier, have scored four goals in a period.
Berenson played in the original and legendary eight-game Canada Cup series for Team Canada vs. the Soviet Union in 1972 as well as the "old-timers" rematch of the Canada Cup in 1987. In the fall of 2005 he, along with the entire 1972 Team Canada roster, was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Following his retirement as a player after the 1977-78 season, Berenson remained in St. Louis as a member of the Blues' coaching staff. After serving as an assistant coach for a year and a half, he took over as head coach with 56 games remaining in the 1979-80 season and posted a 27-20-9 record. The following year, Berenson was the NHL Coach of the Year after leading the Blues to a 45-18-17 record, the best mark in the first 28 years of the club's history.
In August 1982, Berenson joined former St. Louis Blues coach Scotty Bowman on the Buffalo Sabres staff, serving as an assistant under Bowman until accepting the head coaching job at Michigan in 1984. Berenson has not lost touch with the NHL, presenting the 1989 Coach of the Year award to Pat Burns, then coach of the Montreal Canadiens, at the NHL Awards Banquet.
Berenson is a member of the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor, the Dekers Club Hall of Fame, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. He was named to a select group of college ice hockey's West All-Time Forwards in the 1996 American Hockey Coaches Association College Hockey Centennial All-Time Favorites Poll in voting by fans, coaches and writers, joining Neal Broten, Brett Hull, Greg Johnson, Bill Masterson, John Matchefts, Bill Hay and Tony Hrkac.
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Berenson and his wife, Joy, reside in Ann Arbor. They are the parents of four adult children: daughters Kelly and Sandy and sons Gordie and Rusty.