July 2, 2003
Pearl Changes Mind, Returns to Holy Cross

By Nate Ewell

Five days after announcing his intentions to leave Holy Cross to accept a position at Milton Academy, Paul Pearl has changed his mind and will remain as the head coach of the Crusaders, he told Inside College Hockey on Wednesday.

“My heart is here,” Pearl said. “It’s still a very good situation and the school has made a strong commitment. Milton was such a great place, it made me start to forget how special Holy Cross is.”

Pearl had cited family reasons in his initial decision to step down, but said that his family supports his decision to stay at Holy Cross. Although no contract extension or terms were disclosed, the university issued a press release stating that Pearl had "recommitted to Holy Cross for several years."

He has extensive ties to the Worcester, Mass., campus, dating to his time as a defenseman for the Crusaders. He graduated in 1989 and spent time as an assistant coach at Brown and Connecticut before returning to Holy Cross as the head coach in 1994. This season will be his ninth as the head coach of the Crusaders.

“It’s kind of a part of you,” he said. “I’ve been here a long time, and I hope to be here much longer.”

"I am very happy that Paul will be with us for quite a bit longer,” Holy Cross athletic director Richard Regan, Jr., said. “He is a great coach, a great recruiter, and perhaps most importantly, he understands what Holy Cross is all about.”

Pearl has led Holy Cross from its roots as a Division III program to its position as a contender in the MAAC and now Atlantic Hockey. (He said that this week’s changes in the league’s governance structure had “absolutely no” impact in his decision.)

Even as he discussed his initial decision to move on last week, Pearl expressed excitement about Holy Cross’s prospects in 2003-04. That excitement was evident again Wednesday as he discussed his decision to stay on campus. Among the team’s top 12 scorers in 2002-03 only Brandon Doria graduated, and a senior-laden lineup returns this year.

“I think we have, first, a great group of kids here who have been together for a couple years of real hardship,” Pearl said, noting the untimely death of junior Glenn Crane in December after a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease. “I feel like I’m a big part of those guys’ lives, and I have a hard time thinking of not being here with them.

“Also, we’ve got a very talented group. We play in a tough league and you never know what can happen, but we’re very deep at every position.”

The Crusaders finished third in the MAAC last year, their second of back-to-back 17-win seasons after they had been limited to eight victories in each of the previous two years. Pearl, who was named the conference’s coach of the year in 2001-02, is 116-114-19 in his head coaching career.

Pearl led Holy Cross to the first MAAC tournament championship, in 1999, and has coached each of the last two MAAC Offensive Players of the Year (Doria and San Jose Sharks minor leaguer Pat Rissmiller).

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