Courtesy of Yale Athletics

After the Ivy League made the decision to cancel all winter sports competition, Yale men’s ice hockey defenseman Phil Kemp ’21 and Jack St. Ivany ’22 have both taken steps towards continuing their hockey careers away from the Blue and White. 

Last Wednesday morning, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they had signed Kemp to a three-year entry-level contract through the 2022-23 season. While the 21-year-old, who was selected 208th overall by the Oilers in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft, had hoped to finish out the school year and play alongside his teammates for longer, he is excited to kick-start his professional stint. Additionally, St. Ivany has entered the NCAA transfer portal prior to his graduation from Yale and will be eligible to don another team’s uniform at the end of this semester.  

Upon learning the news of Kemp’s signing, Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of the men’s hockey team Keith Allain ’80 expressed great enthusiasm for the Elis’ captain.

“I was excited to learn that Phil signed with Edmonton,” Allain told the News. “He is a fantastic person, a great leader and an outstanding player. I believe that he has the talent and drive to be a successful pro hockey player.”

In addition to applauding Kemp’s abilities, Allain stated that he and the rest of the Yale hockey organization plan to follow Kemp’s career with great interest.

Kemp did not respond to multiple interview requests from the News.

In May of this year, the six-foot-three, 210-pound, Greenwich, Connecticut native was voted captain by his fellow Bulldogs. In his past three seasons at Yale, Kemp recorded a total of 27 points in 88 contests, lighting the lamp nine times. He was also named to the Eastern College Athletic Conference All-Academic Team for three consecutive years. Additionally, Kemp earned a silver medal with the US National Team at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

Despite not being able to lead his team in competition due to the cancellation of the winter sports season, Kemp’s leadership presence showed this fall.

Goaltender Nick MacNab ’21 was especially impressed by Kemp’s dedication to serving the team through the uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The netminder praised Kemp for his commendable leadership and team-first attitude.

“I know how much it’s torn him up not being able to compete in a Yale sweater for our senior season, but during the time our team has been able to spend together this year he’s been a phenomenal captain and leader on and off the ice,” MacNab explained.

According to Kemp, the time he spent at Yale allowed him to progress as a player. He emphatically expressed his appreciation for all of the coaches, weight room staff and his teammates. In an interview with Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED radio in Edmonton, Kemp noted that he learned a lot about “how to play the game the right way” and hopes to implement this knowledge into his game moving forward.

“It’s kind of making lemonade out of lemons, but I’m super-excited and super-pumped,” Kemp told Stauffer. “It’s obviously a crazy time, but for me I think chaos creates opportunity. I’m just going to try to bring mojo, bring positivity, try to play my game and try to help whatever team I’m on win.”

Although Kemp did not expect to sign with Edmonton so soon, his transition to the big league came as no surprise to MacNab, who believes that the signing will benefit the Oilers’ depth chart. MacNab added that “there’s no one more deserving of signing an NHL contract than Phil.”

In a press release Monday morning, Steve Conn, Yale’s Senior Assistant Director of Strategic Communications wrote that Kemp has been loaned to Vasby of the Swedish Allsvenskan League by the Oilers. Kemp flew from New York Sunday night and recently arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. He will be continuing to take classes remotely and graduate with his class in the spring.

While Kemp is focused on post graduation play, St. Ivany looks to make the most of his years of NCAA eligibility and has entered the transfer portal.

During his time at Yale, St. Ivany played in 62 games, tallying 30 points with 7 goals and 23 assists. In his sophomore campaign, he recorded 15 helpers — a team-high — and led Yale defensemen in total game points. Furthermore, the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4th round pick in the 2018 NHL draft received his second ECAC All-Academic Team selection. 

According to a report by Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal, St. Ivany was “likely” headed to Boston College after entering the NCAA transfer portal. Due to the article, several accounts on Twitter assumed that the Flyers’ prospect had committed to playing for the BC Eagles.

St. Ivany, however, has not yet made a final decision and continues to evaluate his choices.

“I have not officially committed to any school or officially transferred to a school, I have only entered the transfer portal,” St. Ivany said in a statement to the News. “The reports saying I have transferred to BC are premature as I have not made any decisions and am still looking at my options.”

St. Ivany did not comment on why he chose to enter the transfer portal.

Although the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship silver medalist has decided to leave three semesters short of a Yale degree, he has already left a lasting impression on teammates and coaches alike. Allain described St. Ivany as “an outstanding young man, a terrific talent and a great teammate.”

While saddened that St. Ivany will no longer be an active player on the Bulldogs’ roster, Allain emphasized that the junior defenseman has cemented himself as an integral member of the team and wished him the best in his hockey career.

“Jack will always be a member of the Yale Hockey Family and we hope and pray that he will realize his dreams,” Allain said.

The Yale men’s ice hockey program is the oldest existing intercollegiate ice hockey team in the US.

Update, Nov. 30: This story was updated to reflect new information about Captain Phil Kemp’s professional hockey career in a Yale Athletics press release at 10:33am.

Trisha Nguyen | trisha.nguyen@yale.edu