A lot can happen in eight months. In mid-April, reports circulated that Mel Pearson turned down the coaching position at Michigan Tech. The Huskies were coming off a 4-30-4 season and couldn't even convince an alumnus to lead the program.
The situation looked bleak at best.
Think about that for a second. If at that point you had to predict what the 2011-12 season would look like, it probably wouldn't be a pretty picture.
But we all know what happened. Pearson had a change of heart, brought in two new assistant coaches and six new recruits, and has since led the Huskies to a .500 record (9-9-1) through the first half of the 2011-12 season, just a point away from home ice in the playoffs if they started today.
Tech swept Wisconsin, took three of four points from Denver, tied with the defending champions through two periods in consecutive nights and beat Minnesota at Mariucci Arena.
A pretty remarkable turnaround indeed.
"I'm pretty pleased with how things have gone. I'd give the team a solid 'B' considering where we've come from," Pearson said. "We have to keep things in perspective a little bit. ... I'm pleased but not satisfied."
Pearson has been most pleased with the players' attitudes in the first half. It would have been easy for players, coaches and fans alike to accept this year as a rebuilding year. Having a new coach with a new system and most of the roster from a 4-30-4 team would have been an adequate excuse for any struggles in most people's eyes.
But, at the beginning of the year, the players established several lofty goals for the year, in the face of long-shot odds, such as winning the Great Lakes Invitational and earning home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
At the time, to many, the goals sounded like a "shoot for the stars, hit the moon" philosophy, but Tech is actually well on track to accomplish many of the very things it set out to do.
"We've positioned ourself well, and it all starts with GLI," Pearson said. "It's going to be a fight to the finish and we're going to need every ounce of energy."
The players are resting and relaxing at home until they meet again in Detroit on Dec. 26 in preparation for the Dec. 29-30 GLI at Joe Louis Arena, but Pearson knows it can be easy to lose any momentum if proper conditioning is not maintained.
"You really have to trust your players to stay in shape," he said.
The GLI is always one of the most prestigious and difficult college hockey tournaments in the country, and Pearson admits this year's field is one of the strongest ever. The other three teams are all ranked: No. 3 Boston College, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 20 Michigan.
"But I'm hoping to win it, I really am," Pearson said. "It's maybe one of the strongest fields I've seen - and I've been involved in the tournament for 30 years - but any given night we can beat a team."
Just ask Minnesota.
Of course there's a 50 percent chance Pearson will get to face the Michigan team he coached for 23 years and recruited most of its current roster.
If I played them, I really hope it's in the championship game. It'd be weird, is best word to describe it, but ... it'd be neat at the same time."
All in all, if the Huskies can keep the hot goaltending of Josh Robinson going, while addressing some of the defensive zone coverage issues that have plagued them this year, and add some consistency across the board, they have a legitimate chance to win the GLI for the first time since 1980 - when Pearson was a player at Tech - and go on to earn home ice in the playoffs.
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @steander.