View From Section U ▲ Crunching Carvel’s Numbers

Ahead of coach Greg Carvel’s formal introduction as head coach of Massachusetts hockey I’ve been taking a look at some numbers, as I tend to do.  The story of UMass’ struggles in recent years was easily told through their statistics.  So let’s take a look at the Saint Lawrence Saints’ team statistics from Carvel’s four years in Canton and see what’s to learn from them.

Here are the team Saints’ goals for, shots on goal for, power play, goals against, shots on goal against, penalty kill, goal margin, shots on goal margin, and the national ranking for each.  I’ve also included those statistics for the team Carvel will be taking over.  Not all the stats were readily available for the first two seasons.

SLU Saints Goals For Rank SOG Rank PP% Rank Goal Mgn Rank
2012-13 2.82 27 20.5% 14 -0.1 33
2013-14 3.21 12 27.2% 1 -0.2 41
2014-15 3.05 14 27.8 47 16.4% 32 1.0 6
2015-16 2.86 23 31.9 22 11.8% 55 0.6 19
Straight Avg 2.99 19 29.9 35 19.0% 25.5 0.3 24.8
UMass 15-16 2.33 48 28.7 50 17.3% 33 -1.7 56
SLU Saints Goals Ag Rank SOG Ag Rank PK% Rank SOG Mgn Rank
2012-13 2.87 38     82.3% 32    
2013-14 3.45 53     73.7% 58    
2014-15 2.03 4 31.3 39 87.6% 9 -3.6 44
2015-16 2.27 12 32.6 41 84.9% 15 -0.7 36
Straight Avg 2.66 27 32.0 40 82.1% 29 -2.2 40
UMass 15-16 4.06 59 35.8 56 76.0% 57 -8.0 55


A couple things stand out.  First, his teams have been pretty solid from a goal scoring standpoint, better than average and even in the top ranks of college hockey for a couple seasons.  The 2014-15 team looks like it was an excellent shooting team given the difference between shots on goal ranking and goals scored.  I’m not totally sure what to make of the power play being all over the place, from best in the country in his second season to 5th to last this past year.

Defensively you can really see the influence of goaltender Kyle Hayton who just finished his sophomore season.  The team improved dramatically in terms of goals against in the past two years, on average a top ten team in that aspect.  But they were still giving up a lot of shots on goal in that time, illustrating that Hayton was making a lot of saves.  Hayton had the 3rd best save percentage in the country in his freshman year and 5th best this past season.  His play is likely the cause of the improvement in the penalty kill as well.

I think some detractors would look at these statistics and say Carvel “got lucky” with a good goaltender.  But that’s dumb.  Identifying, recruiting, and developing a solid goaltender is something a coach and his staff deserves credit for.  Good goalies do not just walk in off the street.  The saying goes that championship teams are built from the net outward.  And it’s very apparent that’s how Carvel was building his teams in Canton.  Hell, it’s how UMass’ lone NCAA team was built.  John Micheletto’s downfall was that he tried to build a team from the opponent’s net outward, with his whole system built upon all five skaters aggressively pushing the puck into the offensive zone.  It failed miserably.  I think we can look at St Lawrence’s numbers and know that Carvel is unlikely to make that same mistake.

There are another set of numbers I wanted to share.  Four years ago when UMass was searching for a coach one of the main targets, and the first to publicly turn down then AD John McCutcheon, was Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold.  At the time Pecknold’s candidacy was met with mixed reaction from UMass fans, something that now seems laughable as he heads into his second Frozen Four in the last four years.  But back then he wasn’t as hot a commodity.  When he interviewed for the UMass job in 2012 it had been 1o years since his last NCAA appearance and in his previous four years as an ECAC coach he had gone 74-65-19.  Of course the next season after turning down UMass he made his first Frozen Four and his team is my personal pick to win the championship a couple weeks from now in Tampa.  It seems silly now that UMass fans, myself included, were not overly excited about the prospect of Pecknold taking the reigns of the UMass program four years ago.  I bring all this up because Greg Carvel’s record in his four years coaching an ECAC team is  72-63-15.  That’s nearly identical to where Pecknold was four years ago when he said “thanks but no thanks” to McCutcheon.  Is Carvel the next Pecknold?  Who knows.  But I did find the similar numbers intriguing and perhaps a little encouraging.

Coach Carvel arrived in Amherst today ahead of tomorrow’s festivities:

I’ll be honest, my first reaction to that picture was, “Wait, the Mullins ice is still in?”  There is absolutely no reason for the ice to still be in the Mullins right now.  Usually it would be gone days after the team finished their home schedule.  Then I thought of a reason why it’s still there.  Athletic Director Ryan Bamford kept the ice down so he could properly show prospective coaches the Mullins Center as a hockey arena.  Is this AD serious about hockey?  It sure seems like it!

Here’s a behind the scenes of Coach Carvel’s (note: it’s CAR-vel) arrival:

Toot Cahoon was part of Matt Vautour’s coverage of the hire yesterday.  Today the athletic department released more of his thoughts on the hire.  Interesting to note, Carvel played against Toot-coached Princeton teams during his time as a Saint Lawrence star.  Also, it’s great that Toot is on good terms with the department after his tenure here ended under not ideal circumstances, due a lot to the previous AD.

There have obviously been a lot of people weighing in on the Carvel hire.  But I thought this one from former BU Terrier turned commentator Colby Cohen was interesting:

Though Carvel has some local ties to the area, can this New Yorker who has spent a lot of his career in Ontario and New York’s North Country somehow find a way to relate to the every day people of the great commonwealth of Massachusetts?

Oh yeah.  He’ll be just fine.  (By the way coach, medium hot dark roast black, thanks!)

Matt Vautour doesn’t always get the chance to write about the hockey program as much as fans would like, but that’s not to say he doesn’t understand the frustration of the fans and the true natural potential of UMass hockey.  Why have the hardcore UMass hockey fans been begging for the right combination of administrative support and the right coach?  As Matt lays out in this piece, the hockey program has perhaps the best chance at championship level success of any UMass sport.  It’s a well written piece that I suggest all take the time to read.

The Fire The Musket blog has some thoughts on the Carvel hire.

Outgoing UMass star Shane Walsh had this to say about the Carvel hire on Twitter this evening:

If anyone deserves a 5th year, it’s Walsh.

Sophomore Anthony Petrella added his enthusiasm:

Could the athletic department be exploring moving the student section back to its previous spot on the west side of the Mullins (the side now behind the current visitor’s bench).  That seems like a possibility given these tweets from Associate Athletic Director Alan Pandiani:

I’m going to stay out of the debate of whether moving the students back to their old spot is a good decision because I’m admittedly biased.  Such a move would displace me from my beloved seats in Section U so I’ll just stay out of the discussion altogether.  My only hope is that if the department does make accommodations for the students that they show up en masse to the games, stay until the final buzzer, and are loud.

Tomorrow is the big day!  Follow the press conference live at work with this link starting at 10am.

Go UMass!



  1. I like the numbers, especially defensively, where as you’ve eloquently stated we have been atrocious. What stands out to me is that in a couple of cases the numbers aren’t so different from what UMass has put up in the past couple seasons but the results are DRASTICALLY better.

    UMass gave up a lot of shots on average, but St. Lawrence wasn’t that much better. They did however give up significantly fewer goals, which has a lot to do with the guy in net but also results from the defensive system and awareness in front of him, something UMass completely lacked under Mick.

    Conversely St. Lawrence didn’t generate that many more shots on goal than UMass has, but they cashed on them a lot more frequently with a noticeably higher scoring average.

    I like the potential that’s there to improve the PP, though St. Lawrence did step back in that regard over the last couple seasons. It’s not any worse that what we’ve already seen though. I love the potential however for the PK to improve, as ours was a dumpster fire and St. Lawrence’s has made gains every year and has become very good.

    Looking forward to a new day. Won’t change overnight but I’d be willing to wager that next season we won’t be the type of pushover we’ve been over the last four.


  2. Enough

     /  March 31, 2016

    Cant we take the story of Micheletto being relieved of his duties off his duties off the UMass hockey website.
    We have a new guy, lets move on.
    The website needs to step their game up too


  3. I think the ice is still there because the Spring hockey league has been playing on both sides.


  4. Rex

     /  March 31, 2016

    I personally couldnt care less about the website. Ppl always want to complain about something I guess.


  5. Anonymous

     /  March 31, 2016

    Where does this leave the signees of the upcoming classes?


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