June 27, 2003
Pearl Steps Down at Holy Cross

By Nate Ewell

After eight years of taking the Holy Cross hockey team from a Division III program to a MAAC title contender, Paul Pearl has decided to step down as the Crusaders’ head coach. With an eye towards spending more time with his family, Pearl will become an assistant athletic director, hockey coach and admissions officer at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass.

“These have been the greatest eight years of my life, and I’ve loved it,” Pearl told Inside College Hockey on Friday. “It’s a lifestyle decision. I’ve got my wife, Karen, a three-year-old (Bobby) and a one-year-old (Katie) at home, and when I looked at the whole scope of recruiting, traveling, and all that goes into college coaching, this was the best decision for me.”

“I was stunned and saddened to hear,” Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said of Pearl’s decision. “Obviously Paul Pearl is a great hockey coach. The MAAC and all of college hockey is going to miss him, but I trust that this is a good move for him.”

Pearl oversaw the Crusaders’ ascendance to the Division I ranks, and led them to the playoff championship in the first year of the MAAC (1998-99). He posted a 116-114-19 record in eight seasons.

“Winning the MAAC championship in 1999 obviously was a highlight from a hockey standpoint,” Pearl said. “And working our way up the last couple of years and being a successful team – without scholarships in a league that has scholarships – was rewarding as well.”

After back-to-back eight-win seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, Pearl returned the Crusaders to the top half of the MAAC standings in the past two years. They have posted consecutive 17-win seasons, including 14 conference victories each year, in both 2001-02 and 2002-03.

Pearl earned conference coach of the year honors after a surprising second-place MAAC finish in 2001-02, and Holy Cross tied for third in the league this past season. Pearl coached the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year each of the past two years (Pat Rismiller and Brandon Doria).

Despite the loss of Doria to graduation, Pearl doesn’t leave the cupboard bare for his successor. The next 11 highest scorers on the 2002-03 roster all return, and goaltender Tony Quesada will be a sophomore this fall.

“From a pure hockey standpoint, this is an incredibly tough decision,” Pearl said. “This is a pretty good team that’s coming back, and it’s a great group of kids.”

Holy Cross will almost certainly open a search for Pearl’s replacement, but he offered an endorsement for assistant coach Terrence Butt, a 1995 graduate of the school.

“I hope it’s my assistant, Terrence Butt,” Pearl said. “He’s intelligent, hard-working, and he knows the game. He deserves it.”

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