After former assistant coach Albie O’Connell promoted to head coach following David Quinn’s departure to the New York Rangers, the Boston University men’s hockey team has added former Harvard University associate head coach Paul Pearl to close the final void left in the coaching staff.
The Terriers will also see the return of the rest of last year’s coaching staff.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Paul join our staff,” O’Connell said in a press release. “Paul is one of the best coaches and recruiters in all of college hockey. He has a great experience developing high level student athletes both on and off the ice, and his passion, personality and experience will allow him to hit the ground running.”
Pearl will cross the Charles River after four seasons with the Crimson. Coaching alongside 13-year head coach Ted Donato helped Pearl achieve new heights as a hockey coach, where his guidance helped Harvard emerge into one of the ECAC’s premier programs over the past four years following missing the NCAA Championship for nine seasons.
The Crimson won the ECAC to earn an NCAA Tournament berth in Pearl’s first year with the team. They repeated this feat in the 2016-17 season, which became the most fruitful season Harvard has enjoyed since its 1988-89.
The group felled BU in the 2017 Beanpot final 6-3, earning a championship during a banner 28-win season. Its offense was on its game, posting over four goals per night, and the Crimson rolled their way to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1994.
Pearl saw Harvard’s offensive leaders flourish during his tenure with the team.
The players’ per-game average of 4.06 goals in the 2016-17 season was ranked second in Division I hockey while their 25.90 percent power play success rate was fourth in the country, behind Hockey East representatives Northeastern University and UMass Lowell.
This past season, Harvard suffered a slight drop-off in offensive production but still boasted a dangerous unit. It dropped from from second to 12th in the nation with 3.15 goals per game, while the power play had a 21.26 percent rate of success.
The Crimson also made the NCAA Tournament in 2015-16 behind the assistance of an offensive juggernaut. They scored the ninth-best average in the country of 3.41 goals per game, and their rate of success power play was 27.4 percent, the fifth-highest mark among all D1 squads and the best Harvard achieved under Pearl’s leadership.
Pearl also had the chance to coach some top talent over the last few years — he oversaw the second half of 2016 Hobey Baker Award-winner Jimmy Vesey’s career, followed by Ryan Donato, son of Ted Donato, took over the throne as Harvard’s preeminent superstar.
The younger Donato was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker finalist as a junior before signing an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. He also joined Terrier alum Jordan Greenway at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Prior to being hired by Harvard in 2014, Pearl was a mainstay in the College of the Holy Cross hockey program. He left the Crusaders after 19 seasons at the helm as the winningest head coach in program history with 297 victories.
Pearl broke the previous mark of 168 victories in 2006, one of the two years that Holy Cross earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The hiring causes a bit of a role reversal, as Pearl previously had O’Connell as an assistant coach during the Crusaders’ 2006-07 season.
Pearl’s career in college hockey started when he played for Holy Cross, posting 14 goals and 63 assists over 125 games before graduating in 1989.
“I am excited and humbled to become part of the Boston University men’s ice hockey program,” Pearl said in the press release. “Having the opportunity to working with Albie, Len and the rest of the staff here is truly exciting and I can’t wait to get started. BU’s tradition of excellence is something I have always admired.”