The Runner Sports

Ron Mason: A Life Of College Hockey

The news broke today that former Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, and Michigan State head coach Ron Mason passed away from an apparent heart attack at age 76.  He was a true college hockey icon who won 924 games over 36 seasons as a head coach. A man who started as a college player and went on to be a coach that built programs and helped to form conferences.

Ron Mason began playing hockey at St.Lawrence University in 1960-61. While there he lettered in hockey for three years helping the team earn its first-ever ECAC championship and make the Frozen Four. He was the Saints’ leading scorer in back-to-back seasons, earning first team league honors in both campaigns. He earned a BA in physical education during his time at St.Lawrence as well.

In 1966 he became the head coach at Lake Superior State University to help start a hockey program with the goal to compete in Division 1. While at Lake Superior he never lost more than 10 games in a season while producing four 20-win seasons. The program would go on to win the 1972 NAIA national championship under his guidance. In that same year, he would play an important part in helping to form the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), the conference where Lake Superior would play after they made the jump to Division 1.

Bowling Green State University would hire Mason in 1973, he went on to coach the Falcons until the end of the 1978-79 season. His tenure at Bowling Green was greatly successful, winning three regular season championships (1977,1978,1979) along with three consecutive CCHA tournament titles. During his time at BGSU, the Falcons gained the CCHA its first NCAA tournament berth and first NCAA Frozen Four appearance as well as the conference’s first number one national ranking.

In April 1979, Mason was hired by Michigan State University. With the Spartans, he would have the most success of his coaching career winning seven regular season championships and ten conference post-season championships. Twice he led the Spartans to nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, making a total of 19 NCAA appearances overall at MSU. He won the 1986 NCAA National Championship with Spartans beating Harvard 6-5 in the title game. The next year MSU returned to the title game but finished as runner-up after losing 5-3 to North Dakota. After retiring from coaching hockey Mason became the athletic director at Michigan State from 2002 to 2007.

During his time at Michigan State Mason coached two Hobey Baker winners, Kip Miller who won the award in 1990 and Ryan Miller who won in 2001. Throughout his tenure at MSU he coached 35 All-Americans and over 50 future NHL players, including the likes of Rod Brind’Amour, Anson Carter, and Shawn Horcoff.  Mason was named CCHA coach of the year seven times in his career. U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2013, coach Mason is also a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Lake Superior State, Michigan State and St.Lawrence Halls of Fame. Ron Mason was a builder of programs and an architect of conferences, A true college hockey legend and icon was lost today.

Dylan Fox

Dylan Fox

Hockey fan, covering NCAA Hockey
Dylan Fox

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