Greg Carvel ready to take on UMass hockey’s rebuilding task

  • UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, left, introduces Greg Carvel as the head coach of the hockey program at a press conference Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

  • UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, left, introduces Greg Carvel as the head coach of the hockey program at a press conference Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

  • UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, right, introduces Greg Carvel as the head coach of the hockey program at a press conference Thursday. DAN LITTLE

  • Greg Carvel speaks at a press conference as the new head coach of the hockey program at UMass Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

  • Greg Carvel speaks at a press conference as the new head coach of the hockey program at UMass Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

  • UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford introduces Greg Carvel as the head coach of the hockey program at a press conference Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

  • Greg Carvel speaks at a press conference as the new head coach of the UMass hockey program Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 3/31/2016 11:03:28 PM

AMHERST — As they walked into the Mullins Center last week, 10 minutes into his interview to be the next UMass hockey coach, then St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel turned to Minuteman athletic director Ryan Bamford.

“He hits me on the arm and he says ‘Am I selling you or are you selling me?’” Bamford said. “I kind of chuckled and said, ‘Let’s just sell each other on this and have a conversation.’”

Sell each other they did. Carvel laid out his experience building a program at St. Lawrence as well as his time coaching in the NHL. Bamford pitched UMass’ resources and potential.

Both men were buyers. Less than a week later, the two shared a table in the Mullins Center’s Massachusetts room at the press conference Thursday introducing Carvel as UMass’ new hockey coach.

“It was a great conversation. That was a week ago and it took off from there,” Bamford said. “I knew we had our guy. I just had to make sure we could recruit him and secure him for the position.”

Before he arrived in St. Lawrence, the Saints had finished 11th ​and eighth ​in the 12-team ECAC. But Carvel took the program he once starred in as a player and made it competitive again, going 72-63-15 in four seasons. Leaving wasn’t an easy call. Not only did he play for the Canton, New York school, but the 45 year old grew up in the northern New York town that’s barely a golf shot from the Canadian border.

He said Amherst College coach Jack Arena and former Minuteman coach Toot Cahoon helped convince him.

“Jack Arena is good friend and a great hockey person. He was very influential. He was the first person to come to me and say that this is home run and that I was the guy that they needed,” said Carvel, who was Arena’s assistant while he attending graduate school at UMass. “Toot Cahoon was also outstanding. I spoke with Toot a couple of times. ... Those guys were very influential.”

UMass has had Carvel on parade since announcing his hire Tuesday. He met with his new team, and several athletic department staffers on Wednesday afternoon and evening. After Thursday’s press conference, he and Bamford were introduced on the floor of the Statehouse before holding another mini press conference/meet-and-greet with influential donors at the UMass Club in Boston.

Carvel’s wife, Daina, is an Amherst Regional alum. She and their three young children were with him in Amherst last week, so they didn’t make the 300-mile round trip this time.

In addition to getting himself and his family situated in Massachusetts, with the ceremonies behind him, Carvel will meet with holdovers from John Micheletto’s staff on Friday as he begins to formulate his own staff. He’ll work on getting to know his new team, touching base with committed recruits and laying groundwork with new recruits.

He expected to be successful convincing good players to come to Amherst and listed some of the draws:

“The quality of the education, the reputation of the school. It’s a great college town. I always love coming back to Amherst. It’s an easy sell to get kids to come here. You bring them in here and you look at the arena. The facilities are great, nothing you can complain about. To combine that with what I think I can do as a coach, I thought the whole combination was great. I think we’re going to have an easy time recruiting here. Now it’s up to us to hit the road and find the players.”

Carvel warned against expecting instant success.

“We’ll push this as far as we can. We understand how difficult this league is. I’ve talked about challenges. If you’re worth your salt it’s where you want to be,” he said. “You want to take your swing and try to hit a home run. I’ll do everything I can.”

He did guarantee his teams would be competitive.

“I consider myself to be a pretty passionate coach, and I am ambitious at the same time. I have a very strong work ethic and my preparation is second to none. I pay attention to detail. My teams play with a purpose, we play hard and we play right,” he said. “At St. Lawrence, as important as wins and losses were, I wanted to be respected. I told my players that you don’t demand respect, you command it. And I felt that the past two years we had teams that commanded respect.

“We were a small-resource school but we worked our way up to the top of the league against teams with resources that were much bigger than we had,” Carvel said. “And I’m very proud of what we did.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage




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