6-foot-3, 210-pound forward Curtis Hall ’22 added even more international experience to his hockey career this winter break.
In the Czech Republic, the sophomore demonstrated himself as a valuable player on Team U.S.A. Upon his return to America, Hall again proved to be an invaluable player for the Bulldog squad as he slipped in the game-winning goal against Vermont last week.
The Bulldogs were trailing by a point with 51 seconds left when Hall redirected the puck past Vermont netminder Tyler Harmon to send the game into overtime. Fellow forward Justin Pearson ’22 then intercepted a Catamount pass and delivered the biscuit to Hall, who drove it up the ice and ended the contest 3–2 in favor of the Elis. For Hall, however, moves like these are almost expected of him. The sophomore was among only 23 players — 10 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies — chosen to sport the Red, White and Blue for the 2020 World Junior Championships.
“The experience itself was a big honor to be able to play on that team, and I was just happy to be there to start,” Hall said. “Obviously we ended earlier than we wanted to, so that was unfortunate, but I learned that even on such a good team you have to be ready to play every game. I think a group of players like that coming all together taught me, at higher levels, you fall into more of a role, and you might have to play a different role than you’re used to. I was playing right wing there, and I’m used to playing center. So that was a change, and you just have to adapt.”
The Chagrin Falls, Ohio native is no stranger to the international stage. In the four games he competed in for the 2017 U.S.A. team in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Hall recorded three goals and one assist for four points. At the 2017 World Junior A Challenge, where he played five games, Hall helped his team finish second overall. A year later, Hall was back in action on the world stage, scoring one goal and an assist to boot in the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. For the versatility and adeptness displayed by Hall on the international stage, he was drafted as the 119th overall selection in 2018 by the Boston Bruins.
Though the 2020 U.S. World Junior Team eventually lost 1–0 in the quarterfinals to Finland, Hall managed to sneak in a point for Team USA during a preliminary round in which they claimed victory over Germany 6–3.
“[Hall] is a workhorse, he’s a big body center man that can play in all three zones,” forward Mitchell Smith ’20 said. “He’s a two-way player. When he wants, he can dominate other teams down low in the offensive zone. [Hall] is a guy you want on your team.”
After committing to Yale, Hall was promptly given a heavy workload as a first year, playing in 24 games in which he tallied five goals and six assists. Of the two dozen games Hall competed in, none were quite as impressive as his February performance against Cornell — a team that would eventually play in the ECAC Championship game. In it, Hall scored two goals to lead his team to a 5–2 victory.
Now a sophomore, Hall has enjoyed quite the remarkable campaign, as one would expect from one of the best junior skaters in the country. In the season opener, Hall struck first for the Blue and White, firing in a rebound to give his team a 1–0 lead. Midway through the second, Hall again made his presence felt. With just the goalie to beat on a breakaway, he deked right, then left and delivered a backhand shot that the netminder had no chance to make a play on.
“[Hall] has been great so far this season,” forward Luke Stevens ’20 said. “He’s a big body who can skate and really shoot it. He’s scored some big goals for us lately, and I’m sure he’ll keep it rolling in the second half of the season.”
Eight games later, Hall has already surpassed his goal tally from last year with six along with his one assist.
In his matchup against Harvard at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, Hall saw a familiar face among the Crimson squad: forward Jack Drury. Though the pair of sophomores wore the same Red, Blue and White jerseys together in the Czech Republic, they often find themselves on opposite sides of the ice.
“I’ve actually known [Drury] for a while, so that was kind of exciting that we were able to be together a couple weeks earlier going for the same goal and then back to playing against each other,” Hall said. “That’s the rivalry I always look forward to, especially when we’re playing Harvard. Yale versus Harvard and then me versus him because we’ve always kind of grown up playing against each other.”
Hall will next square up against Harvard on Feb. 14, but the Elis will more imminently face off against Union on Friday at 7 p.m.
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