Mel was born in Slocan
City, British Columbia in 1943 but the family was moved
eastward shortly after that, as were thousands of
Japanese-Canadian families. After staying in Northern
Ontario for 3 years, the Wakabayashi family arrived in Chatham
in 1950. Mel soon became involved in sports, particularly
minor hockey and minor baseball. He went on to excel at
both sports at the local level with the Chatham Junior
Maroons and Ontario Baseball Association championship
teams. Mel continued his excellent play at college and at
the international level while playing hockey for 12 years
in Japan. He went on to coach the Japanese National Hockey
Team at several international events including one Winter
President of Seibu Canada which owns and manages the
Westin Prince Hotel in Toronto where he resides.
- Entered University of Michigan on a hockey
scholarship but could not play due to freshman
- Scored 21 goals and 17 assists, including 2
goals in championship game, as Michigan beat
University of Denver for NCAA
Championship. In a game against Loyola
University in Montreal, received his only minor
penalty (on a questionable call) during his
- Lead team in overall scoring with 17 goals and
21 assists and was Western Collegiate Hockey
Association scoring champion with 13 goals and 17
assists in league.
- Won Hall Downes Award as team Most Valuable
Player and was First-team All-American.
- Led team in overall points with 19 goals and 33
assists and led WCHA in league scoring as well as
serving as Team Captain.
- Named WCHA Most Valuable Player and ranks in top
25 in career scoring and in career assists.
- 1967 through 1979
- Played in Japan; 5 years with Seibu Railway Team
and 7 years with Kokudo
- While at Michigan, lettered in baseball for the
Wolverines as a second baseman, attended spring
training with Detroit Tigers.
- Was Head coach of Japanese National Hockey Team
at 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid and at three world
"B" Hockey Championships.
- Inducted into Dekers Booster Club Hall of Fame
at University of Michigan
- Signed contract with Detroit Reg Wings.
Played a few games with Memphis Wings in the
Central Hockey League and then went to Johnstown
in Eastern Hockey League where he scored 8 goals
and 18 assists.
- Head Coach of Kokudo Team from 1984 to 1994
- Selected as one of Top 50 Players in 50 Year
History of Western Collegiate Hockey Association
- Inducted into University of Michigan Athletic Department
Hall of Honour