‘Everyone loves to be around’ UMass hockey’s Carson Gicewicz

  • Carson Gicewicz scored his first collegiate hat trick against Bemidji State on Saturday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • “What he does off the ice, everyone loves him. He’s a little kid trapped in a gigantic body,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said of Carson Gicewicz after his hat trick against Bemidji State on Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/29/2021 6:51:03 PM

Greg Carvel recruited Carson Gicewicz when he was at St. Lawrence, but never coached him.

Gicewicz joined the Saints before the 2016 season just as Carvel departed for UMass.

“Leaving St. Lawrence was an extremely difficult thing for me because the connection I had with the players there,” Carvel said.

His freshman year, St. Lawrence faced UMass in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the Friendship Four. Gicewicz scored a game-tying goal in the third period.

“We weren’t a very good team, and I thought, ‘God I’d like to have that kid on my team,’” Carvel said. “He’s a big, scary kid to play against.”

Gicewicz played three seasons for the Saints. They lost 27 games his sophomore year and 29 games when he was a junior. He was named captain before his senior year last season, but suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the opening series.

Returning to St. Lawrence for another season was an option, but Gicewicz decided to follow Carvel to UMass for his final season like his former teammate Jacob Pritchard did two years ago.

“That was a huge part of the decision. I’ve known [Carvel] for close to six or seven years now. I trust him. I trusted him originally when I committed to St. Lawrence, and I trust him now,” Gicewicz said in December. “The culture that we’ve set up here, it’s tremendous. Every kid in college hockey knows about it. It’s famous almost.”

Newcomers to that culture’s introductions were different than any other players brought into the program. Gicewicz, other transfers and the team’s freshmen had to bond over Zoom during the summer and didn’t meet their teammates in person until practice began in the fall.

UMass captain Jake Gaudet reached out to Gicewicz first and quickly brought him into the fold.

“Gauds was the first person to reach out to me. He’s kind of the gel for the whole team. When you have a guy like that, people follow his example,” Gicewicz said. “From there, we impose our culture on the new guys, and it’s an easy transition for anyone willing to work hard.”

Gicewicz fit right in. His size and physicality helped shape UMass’ identity as a physical, defensive team that scores gritty goals and grinds out victories. 

“I knew what we were getting with him. I knew as much of what he was going to bring off the ice as on the ice. He’s a big ball of energy that everyone loves to be around,” Carvel said. “He’s been a huge addition. I love having on the team. He’s been exactly what I hoped he’d be for us and maybe more.”

Gicewicz leads the team (and Hockey East) with 17 goals. That ranks fourth nationally, and everyone ahead of him is out of the postseason. The Orchard Park, New York, native scored in seven out of eight games during a stretch in late December and January. He leads the NCAA Tournament with four goals, and he collected his first career hat trick – St. Lawrence included – in UMass’ 4-0 win Saturday over Bemidji State to return to the Frozen Four.

After the third goal went in the net, UMass equipment manager Josh Penn handed it to Gicewicz and told him, “don’t let this go.”

“On a personal level, this year has been really rewarding. It’s not like I was escaping anything at St. Lawrence. I was happy to be there when I was there,” Gicewicz said. “This has been a really special year.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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