New coach Greg Carvel, UMass players eager to work together

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

  • University of Massachusetts 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 hockey program at the University of Massachusetts Thursday at the Mullins Center. DAN LITTLE

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

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

  • University of Massachusetts 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

  • University of Massachusetts 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

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 3/31/2016 11:40:09 PM

AMHERST — When new UMass coach Greg Carvel walked into the meeting with his new team Wednesday night, the players in front of him were total strangers.

Not only had he never met any of them before, but he hadn’t even seen them play. He hadn’t tried to recruit any of them to St. Lawrence, his former program.

The Minutemen and Saints hadn’t played during his tenure and he’d never even crossed paths with UMass when scouting another opponent.

“I said something like ‘you guys don’t know me and I don’t know any of you. We’re all about to make a first impression.’ I tried to make one and they made one on me too,” he said. “The big impression will be when we get on the ice.”

Still, without pulling on skates, he wanted to make the meeting more than a quick hello and a bunch of handshakes.

“I spoke to them for a solid hour. I made them talk. I asked them questions and made them speak,” he said. “College hockey kids are the same everywhere. I think they’re good kids. I could see their eyes lighting up. Things are going to be different and they’re going to be better.”

Even before they met, the players investigated their new coach online.

“It was a little stressful not knowing who the coach was going to be,” freshman forward Austin Plevy said. “When we found out, we started to look into Coach’s background and it’s pretty impressive. As a team we’re really excited.”

Plevy contacted his friend Ben Masella, a junior defenseman at St. Lawrence, and was pleased with what he heard.

“He was pretty upset. That’s a good thing,” Plevy said. “He told me he’s a great coach and an unbelievable guy. He said if there’s a guy to turn the program around it was Coach Carvel.”

The Minutemen were eager to do anything that produced more victories.

“As a team we’re ready to win. Losing is no fun. We’re ready for a change,” Plevy said. “We’re ready to buy into what coach has.”

Sophomore forward Dominic Trento agreed.

“When we met with him last night, it was a real breath of fresh air for everybody,” he said. “We’re fully buying in. We’re ready to buy in for anything. We just want to win games. We’re all itching for the season to come.”

Carvel said he has a lot to do before then, including learning what kind of hand he’s been dealt.

“I’m excited to see what I have. I have no idea. A bunch of people have said that there’s good skill there. But I won’t believe it ’til I see it,” he said. “I go into this having no idea what next year might hold. ... I know what I what I want to do. I know what’s successful and the way to do it.

“The culture in your room has to be developed. It’s a room that’s yearning for that,” Carvel continued. “I’m excited. I do believe the potential is there I just don’t know how quickly we can turn it around. I’ll meet with each kid individually. I like to hear what they think they are.”

He said there are several important traits he believes has defined his teams that he’ll begin instilling in this one.

“You have to be good defensively. You can’t hurt yourself. You have to play a way that makes it hard for the other team to create offense. You have to make sure you’re not turning the puck over in bad areas,” he said. “We may not win every night, but the fans and people who know hockey will appreciate us.”

BELFAST REUNION — Carvel will see and possibly play his former team at the Friendship Four in Belfast in November.

UMass plays Vermont in the first game while St. Lawrence plays Quinnipiac. The winners and losers play each other in the second annual event in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

“That was crazy. I thought of that pretty quickly,” Carvel said when he realized he’d still be going to Belfast. “I told (the St. Lawrence players) as I was leaving, I said ‘It’s going to be hard for me to cheer against you guys if I’m playing you.”

SCOURING THE BAY STATE — Carvel said he was surprised to find just three kids from Massachusetts on the UMass roster.

“I had three Mass. kids at St. Lawrence,” he said. “We have to chase after Mass. kids. I think it will help with the identity of the team and creating interest from fans. ... I’d like to get at least 10 kids from Massachusetts. I think that’d be great for the program.”

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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