Our scouts at Neutral Zone have watched Curtis Hall since he was a Bantam and every year he gets better and better and better. He announced his commitment to Yale after the NTDP Evalutation camp where he proved he was one of the elite forwards in the country for his age group. We ranked him #20 overall at the NTDP Evaluation Camp and listed him as the top player selected by Youngstown in the USHL Draft. He’s one of the elite skaters in the country with a smooth stride, explosive burst and balanced edges. He’s got a versatile skill set, he competes at both ends of the ice, he wins battles for loose pucks, has a strong net front presence and is tough to defend against in open ice with his speed an athleticism.
We are able to catch up with the young emerging star forward and asked him about his recent successes, his college recruiting process and what his plans are going forward.
It’s been a busy month for you, selected in OHL draft, tendered in the USHL, invited to NTDP Evaluation Camp and committing to Yale. Describe this past month for you and your family?
The last two months have been the most exciting and packed months of my life. My advisor Clark Maclean, along with my family and myself decided that it was best to wait until my season finished to make any decisions. So after the season, I visited some colleges and was offered a tender with the Youngstown Phantoms. Before I went public about my tender, I was invited to the NTDP camp, which was an honor. Then I went to visit Yale one last time before I made my final decision. This has been an outstanding experience committing to Yale and signing a tender. I cannot thank my teammates, family, and coaches enough for all the support and help. At the same time, I am excited to be done with recruitment for now so I can focus solely on my development as a player and person.
How was the NTDP Evaluation Camp? Was signing with Youngstown before camp the reason you were not selected to the NTDP U17 team?
NTDP camp was a great experience for me and provided me with a lot of exposure. About a month before the camp I signed my tender with the Youngstown Phantoms. I chose to sign my tender before going to the NTDP camp because I felt that Youngstown would be the best fit for me. The Phantoms were the only team that I had interest in before this past season, and it is such a great feeling to be at my dream USHL team. Once I skated with them a few times and started to talk more seriously, I became very committed to doing whatever was needed to play for Youngstown. After signing, I was very happy to get a call from Ryan Hardy inviting me to Top 40 camp. Even though I had already signed he invited me because he felt I deserved it. I was never offered a spot, but was told I would be considered more seriously if I had an interest in playing for the team. So whether I made the team or not didn’t affect me, I was very happy to attend the camp and get to know the coaches, as well as the other players who attended it.
When did you start hearing from college hockey teams? Discuss your recruiting experience. What other teams offered you and why did you end up choosing Yale? Did you visit other schools and what were your thoughts?
The first time that I heard from a college was last year right after the USA National Camp in Buffalo. The coaches at Cornell showed interest in me. From there I spoke with one of their assistants, Ben Syer and got to know him and their staff before they invited me to visit. The first college visit felt amazing, and nerve racking at the same time. They didn’t offer me but I wasn’t ready to commit so it didn’t bother me. Once my U16 year started I progressively began to hear from many more colleges like Yale, OSU, Colorado College, Boston College, Wisconsin, U of Michigan and a few others. Going to an outstanding academic school, along with a great hockey program was something that I’ve always wanted, so when I heard from Yale I instantly fell in love with what they had to offer. I talked to the coaches and visited the school with my father. They didn’t offer me at the time either so I decided to visit Ohio State and Boston College. Both of these schools were great, but didn’t compare to Yale in my opinion. As the season was winding down I received offers from Ohio State and Colorado College. Then Yale offered me to verbally commit after my last game of playoffs in Blaine, Minnesota. Once I received this offer my heart was set on Yale. Before I made my final decision I took my mom to see the campus and meet the coaches; from there the choice was easy and I knew that Yale was where I wanted to be.
What are your plans this summer on and off the ice?
This summer is going to be intense. I’ll be skating and training 4 to 5 days a week. The biggest things I need to do in preparation for next year in the USHL is gain about 10-15 pounds and work on my skills.
How have the Cleveland Barons prepared you for the USHL and NCAA?
This past hockey season was my 8th year with the Cleveland Barons. Nearly everything I have learned so far has came from this organization. The Barons have always been a second home for me. The on-ice and off-ice training and practices, as well as the coaching, have been a big part of my development. I developed my core fundamentals here, and had some great coaches over the years such as my father and Tommy Goebel who taught me how to play a complete game and how important it is to contribute in all zones. I have always been committed to the Barons and wouldn’t play for any other team if I had the opportunity.
Tell us about your game at this point and what role you see yourself playing in the USHL and eventually the college level?
Next year with the Youngstown Phantoms I believe I can have an immediate impact after a great summer of training. More than half of the team is moving on to college so I have a lot of opportunity to be a great forward for them. I am smart in the defensive zone and a good puck supporter. Along with this I look to be a power forward with great vision, fundamentals, and scoring ability. In college I want to continue these roles and play a very fast, offensive game which is exactly Yale’s style of play.
You were drafted in the OHL? Do you have any interest in CHL or are you solid on your NCAA commitment?
It’s a great feeling to be drafted in the OHL and I am thankful for it. Playing in Canada would be cool because I have family up there who I don’t see often, but the idea of playing in the OHL or any CHL league has never really intrigued me. I have never been interested in the idea of losing my college eligibility. Without hockey I wouldn’t be able to get into one of the best schools in the world so who wouldn’t want the best of both worlds. I have always wanted to play college hockey and nothing has changed that.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/ Hickling Images