Already a Hobey Baker Finalist and a member of just about every postseason all-star team, Yale hockey forward Jeff Hamilton ’01 added to his trophy cabinet Wednesday when he was named a first-team All-American.
Hamilton became the first Yale player ever to earn three All-America selections in his career. He is also Yale’s sole first-team selection since defenseman Ray Giroux ’98 three years ago. The senior center from Englewood, Ohio, becomes only the seventh Eli to earn first-team All-American honors since the awards began in 1956.
“It is a huge honor to be on the first team,” Hamilton said. “It’s just kind of bittersweet because of the way the season ended.”
Harvard swept the Bulldogs out of the postseason in the ECAC quarterfinals three weeks ago.
The Eli center finished the season with a career-high 55 points and set Yale’s all-time scoring record in his final home game. He ended his career with 173 points.
Hamilton ranked second in the ECAC with 55 points and 23 goals.
The postseason has already seen a plethora of awards go to Hamilton. The senior was named Ivy League Player of the Year for the second time in his career, Hobey Baker Finalist for the second time and first-team All-ECAC for the third time, all of which are Yale firsts. He was also unanimously selected to the New England Hockey Writers’ Association All-Star team.
“He was under an awful lot of pressure to perform every night,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “He was closely watched and marked by every team we played. For him to come up with 50-plus points and 20-plus goals is a great tribute to him.”
Despite his accolades this season, Hamilton said the team’s first-round loss overshadowed his individual success.
“I think my performance was pretty inconsistent,” Hamilton said. “My goal personally this year was to help the team get to the NCAAs and Lake Placid, and I didn’t do that. Three weeks later it’s still tough to stomach.”
Hamilton started off his career at Yale with 23 points in his freshman campaign, then he exploded for 47 points on the 1997-98 ECAC Championship team and reeled off 48 points the following year. Last year, a serious abdominal injury kept Hamilton out of the entire season, forcing him to resign his captaincy and withdraw from Yale to preserve a final year of eligibility.
Aside from the prestigious scoring record, Hamilton will leave behind both single-season (7) and career records for game-winning goals (18). He is also tied for most games played with Ray Giroux ’98 and Keith McCullough ’99 with 124.
“What’s amazing is his knack for scoring goals,” said team captain-elect Luke Earl ’02, who played the final seven games this season on the top line with Hamilton. “He’s an unbelievable playmaker that knows how to use the little space that’s given to him.”
Hamilton’s legacy as a prankster and quiet leader in the locker room will live on as well.
“Some people are just hockey players — Jeff has got that look, and not just on Friday and Saturday nights,” goaltender Dan Lombard ’02 said. “He’ll get on the ice whenever he can. He just brings an electricity to the game. It’s great to have someone like that on the team.”
Hamilton said he plans to continue his hockey career somewhere next season. He is currently talking to several NHL teams, and he expects to receive an offer sometime after the NCAA Frozen Four this weekend.
Regardless of where he ends up next year, the man that Taylor called “arguably the greatest offensive player ever to don the Yale uniform” has left an indelible mark on the Bulldog hockey program.