Hitoshi “Mel” Wakabayashi @mw2007.mel -
1. Mel was a fast, high scoring Japanese Canadian center from Slocan City, BC. He was born in an internment camp during World War II, and he was the older brother of another prominent hockey player, Herb.
2. As a youth, Herb excelled in both baseball and hockey. Mel and Herb spent their free time playing baseball, street hockey and pond hockey with a Black neighbor, Eddie Wright. The trio formed what was affectionately nicknamed the "United Nations Line" by their white friends on the Chatham Junior Maroons.
3. Mel went to the @uofmichigan and became a star for the Wolverines. In his freshman year (1964), he notched 21 goals and 17 assists; he was instrumental in the Wolverines’ 1964 @ncaaicehockey championship by scoring two goals in the championship game. As a junior in 1965, he was the captain and leading scorer for Michigan and in the @wcha_mhockey. He was given the Hall Downes Award as the team's Most Valuable Player and was named a first-team All-American. As a senior in 1966, he was the leading scorer in the WCHA again and was named the league's Player of the Year. He also played baseball at the University of Michigan and was named to the All-Big Ten Conference team as a second baseman.
4. In 1967, Mel was signed by the @detroitredwings and played one season for the Memphis Red Wings and the Johnstown Jets. He then relocated to Japan to play 11 seasons of professional hockey with the Seibu Railway team and Kokudo. He was regularly among the league's leading scorers and played seven consecutive seasons without a penalty.
5. Beginning in 1978, Mel transitioned as a player/coach for Kokudo for 6 seasons. He went on to serve as coach and general manager for Team Japan at various levels. Mel was inducted into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall in 2006.