Paul Pearl joined the Harvard men's hockey coaching staff in the spring of 2014 as associate head coach. Pearl joined the Crimson after a 19-year career as head coach at Holy Cross.
Pearl was integral to Harvard's resurgence to national prominence in the 2016-17 season. Harvard captured the Beanpot, Ivy League, ECAC regular season and championship titles and reached the NCAA Frozen Four. Harvard also posted 28 victories, the most since the 1989 national championship season. The Crimson reached many of those milestones scoring 4.06 goals per game, the second-highest total in the nation. Student-athletes this season also accumulated a plethora of end-of-year honors. Freshman defenseman Adam Fox and senior forward Alexander Kerfoot were tabbed All-America, with Fox also earning ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. The Crimson were also accomplished in the classroom with 25 players earning ECAC Academic Team spots and Thomas Aiken earning the Elite 90 Award as the student-athlete with the top GPA at the Frozen Four.
Pearl's leadership helped the Crimson reach the ECAC Hockey Tournament championship game and the NCAA Tournament for the second year in row. In posting a 19-11-4 overall record, the Crimson won the Shillelagh (Notre Dame) and Mariucci (Minnesota) regular season tournaments. Preaching discipline, the Crimson were the 10th-least penalized team in the country in 2015-16. Under Pearl's guidance, Harvard's power play improved to fifth-best in the nation, converting on 27.4 percent of its opportunities. As a whole, the Crimson ranked 10th in the nation in scoring margin (1.03), led by its offense that ranked ninth with 3.41 goals per game, while the defense was 17th at 2.38 goals against. The individual awards poured in for Harvard in Pearl's second season behind the bench, led by senior Jimmy Vesey winning the 2016 Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player.
Focusing on defense and special teams in his first season at Harvard, Pearl saw his special teams units rank among the top-20 in the nation throughout the year. The power play converted 26 times, good for the 11th-highest conversion rate in the country at 20.5 percent. In ECAC, the man-advantage yielded 16 goals, tied for the most in conference. Harvard's defense was among the most stringent in the nation, finishing the year ranked in the top-30 in goals allowed. The renewed confidence on special teams and the stalwart efforts on defense helped the Crimson win the ECAC Tournament title and earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
Pearl had a decorated tenure with the Crusaders, becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach in 2006 with his 168th career victory. In 19 seasons in Worcester, Pearl compiled a 297-293-69 overall record, and was behind the bench for nine of the 11 most successful seasons in program history. Pearl has two NCAA tournament appearances to his credit (2004 and 2006) and has led five, 20-win campaigns at the helm of the Holy Cross program.
His accolades came shortly after he began with the Crusaders, as he was dubbed ECAC East Coach of the Year and New England Hockey Writer’s Association Coach of the Year in 1998. He collected MAAC Coach of the Year honors in 2002 and was twice named Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year (2004 and 2011).
The Wakefield, Mass., native has Ivy League coaching experience, as he served as an assistant coach at Brown during the 1996-97 season. Prior to his time in Providence, he had a two-year stint at Holy Cross, preceded by a two-year tenure as an assistant coach at Connecticut. As a player, Pearl skated in 125 games for the Crusaders, compiling 77 points on 14 career goals and 63 assists.
Pearl graduated from Holy Cross in 1989 and earned his MBA from Connecticut in 1994.