Forward Luke Earl ’02 was elected the 107th captain of the Yale men’s hockey team by his teammates at a meeting Monday night.
Earl, who hails from nearby Simsbury, Conn., will take over the captain’s insignia from graduating forward Ben Stafford ’01.
The decision was made official yesterday in a news release from the Yale Sports Publicity Office.
“It’s a great honor to be named captain,” Earl said. “It’s great to be captain of your best friends and your teammates. I consider myself very lucky.”
Yale’s hockey season ended in disappointment March 10, as the Bulldogs lost a pair of games at Harvard in the first round of the ECAC Playoffs.
But that’s behind the Elis now, and the election of Earl gives the team a chance to look to the future.
“I think this is the first big step in securing what we need for next year,” goaltender Dan Lombard ’02 said. “He’ll serve the traditions of Yale hockey very well.”
On the ice, Earl’s season was capped by an amazing flurry of scoring over the Bulldogs’ final seven games. In that span he put up eight goals and 10 assists, including an amazing nine points in a pair of Bulldog wins in the final home weekend. He was the only Bulldog to be named ECAC Player of the Week, an honor he earned after Yale’s late-season wins over Vermont and Dartmouth.
He also scored the game-winning, short-handed goal in the team’s season-opening win over No. 3 New Hampshire, and he ranked among the ECAC leaders in game-winning goals all season.
“His whole year was pretty solid. He was a steady goal scorer and was picking up assists,” said head coach Tim Taylor, who moved Earl to the top line just before he started his scoring binge. “A lot of people say he got hot because I shifted the lines, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have happened anyway.”
Earl finished the year with 27 points, more than double his career total coming into the season.
While Earl’s success on the ice clearly played a major role in his election, his conduct in the locker room is the major reason that his uniform will bear the “C.”
“Nobody has worked harder and earned more respect from his teammates than Luke,” Taylor said. “He has totally immersed himself in hockey and has made himself as good as he can be.”
Earl is known as one of the toughest and most competitive players on the team, qualities that Stafford says will make him a good captain.
“He brings intensity and he’s a serious guy,” Stafford said. “Everyone knows he has what it takes to lead. He’s going to do a great job.”
Earl described himself largely as a leader by example, and said that his style will be similar to Stafford’s.
Earl will have his hands full with one of Yale’s youngest teams in recent years, but the forward’s work ethic and persistence make him well qualified to captain such a squad.
“For [younger players], the most important thing is for them to learn the daily work — to learn that you can’t take a day off,” Lombard said. “And Luke is by far the best example of that in our class.”