BIRTHPLACE: Cambridge, Mass.
BORN: August 19, 1934
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Harvard University, United States National Olympic Team
Bill Cleary etched his name permanently in American hockey history through his brilliant scoring efforts in the 1960 United States gold medal victory at Squaw Valley. Cleary's twelve points on six goals and six assists was tops on the U.S. squad and his early goal against the Russians set the tone for the epic 2-1 upset win. Cleary's rise to stardom began well before Squaw Valley.
A product of the New England prep school tradition, in his case Belmont Hill, the Cambridge skater went on to a standout career at Harvard. Such Crimson records as most goals in a season, 42; most points in a season, 89; and most assists in a game, 8, belong to him. In addition, he shares the Harvard record for most goals in a game, 6, along with two other players.
Cleary captured the coveted John Tudor Cup, an MVP type award, for the 1954-55 season when he led the Crimson to a 17-3-1 record, the Beanpot and Ivy League championships; and a third place finish at the NCAA tournament. Establishing a then NCAA single season record of 89 points, Cleary was selected for All Ivy, All East, and All American honors as well as being named the most valuable player in New England. His dazzling three goal hat trick paced Harvard to a 6-3 victory over St. Lawrence in the 1955 NCAA consolation game and the mythical championship of the East.
Following his college career Cleary continued in hockey playing on three other Olympic/National teams in addition to the 1960 squad. Hockey historian S. Kip Farrington has named Cleary to his All Harvard team for the period 1946-1970 at center. In March 1971 Bill Cleary took over the Harvard coaching reins upon "Cooney" Weiland's retirement. He had handled the freshman since 1968 and was Weiland's assistant since 1970. During the intervening years Harvard has reached the NCAA tournament on two occasions.