With only three healthy seniors on its roster, the Yale men’s hockey team relied heavily on underclassmen for many of its biggest wins in the 2017–18 season. And if this summer was any indication, first years and sophomores will be key contributors once again in the 2018–19 campaign.
Both forward Curtis Hall ’22 and defender Phil Kemp ’21 played in the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase in British Columbia from July 28 to Aug. 4. The camp — which included seven games against various international teams — served as a tryout for the U.S. national junior team that will compete this winter. During the week, the U.S. team won five of its seven games and while first year Hall did not make the final round of tryouts, this year Kemp remains in the running for a spot on the plane.
“The showcase helped me prepare for college a lot because I was playing at a higher pace and with older guys,” Hall said. “The outcome for me at the showcase was not what I was hoping for, but it has made me even more excited to get on the ice with the guys here in New Haven and continue improving my game.”
As a defender for Yale last year, Kemp showcased his talent on both sides of the ice, keeping a stick on opposing teams’ forwards while also tallying eight points during his rookie season. Kemp’s ability to contribute to all aspects of the game aided him this summer as he competed alongside many of the nation’s top players and some of Yale’s biggest opponents: Harvard defender Reilly Walsh and Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli are also listed on the roster.
Kemp was also invited for the tryout ahead of his first season at Yale but was the last defender cut from the team. However, the sophomore credits a year more of experience and specifically a year of college hockey under his belt as helping him improve in many facets of his game.
“[The] biggest takeaway for me has been ‘so close’ gets you nothing in this world,” Kemp said. “Being cut so late last year definitely hurt, I could taste it. This opportunity definitely lit a fire for me as a motivator to have a big sophomore season. I hope to play for that world junior team this winter. I know I can be a leader on that team and help them win.”
Despite not gaining a spot on this year’s junior national team, Hall will likely have an immediate impact on the ice for the Bulldogs and already boasts an impressive hockey resume. Like Kemp he has proven himself both offensively and defensively, and his 6-foot-3 frame gives him a size advantage over many other forwards. After tallying 52 points in two seasons with the USHL Youngstown Phantoms, Hall was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fourth round of this year’s NHL draft.
Hall was not the only member of the class of 2022 to be drafted by an NHL team. Defender Jack St. Ivany was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the same round as his future teammate. Hall and St. Ivany will also be joined by forwards Kyle Johnson ’22 and Justin Pearson ’22, with defender Graham Lillibridge ’22 rounding out the five-member first-year class.
“Each of our [first years] will play a important role on our hockey team,” Kemp said. “Our team is very deep, and it will be crucial for the [first years] to come out of the gates ready to play. In our locker room, everyone is there for a reason, we have a lot of experience, and it is up to us to set the tone for what this season will look like.”
Even after an impressive showing this summer, Kemp will have to wait until December to find out whether he will officially earn a spot on the roster.
Jane Miller | firstname.lastname@example.org