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New Era Begins ▲ Carvel Introduced As UMass Head Coach

Greg Carvel was officially introduced as the 14th head coach of the Massachusetts hockey program this morning in Amherst.  Carvel opened up his remarks by recalling a conversation with legendary Amherst College coach Jack Arena who told his former assistant coach that UMass “is a home run, they just need the right guy.  You’re the guy.”

I won’t repeat all of the highlights from the press conference.  The UMass Athletics staff has uploaded the entire press conference to watch here:

Or, if you’re just looking for the highlights they can be found here:

The second video also includes some comments from players Austin Plevy and Brennan Baxandall.

I won’t rehash all the quotes and talking points from the videos.  They’re definitely worth watching if you have the chance.  Carvel said all the right things.  Talked about his prior connections to the school from which he holds a masters degree.  He talks about how his team will play with a purpose and be prepared.  He talked about connecting with the students, the community, and the fans.  Together with his resume UMass fans should be excited for the future after hearing from the program’s new leader today.

I was personally very impressed by athletic director Ryan Bamford and his comments during the press conference as well.  There really shouldn’t be any more doubt about whether he and the rest of the department is prepared to give the hockey program the support it needs to succeed in Hockey East.  The first signal of his commitment to the program was how swiftly he removed John Micheletto as coach following the season.  He then put his full attention and effort into this coaching search, reaching out to all available resources for assistance (including speaking to former coach Toot Cahoon), and then aggressively pursuing who he thought would be the best person for the job.  In his first major move as UMass athletic director Bamford landing Carvel for the program has been met with near universal praise.

Following the morning press conference Bamford, Carvel, and a host of other athletic staff crossed the state to the UMass Club in Boston for a chance to meet more media there, an event I was lucky enough to attend.  Before even getting a chance to meet the coach I was taken aback by the overwhelming enthusiasm by the assembled group of UMass supporters.  There was a buzz and it was loud.  Was it really just over two months ago that the team was getting blasted 8-0 at home to Boston College where the program’s remaining fans seemed simultaneously angry and melancholy?  A couple hours at the UMass Club and that night seems years ago.  There was nothing by optimism and excitement from those in attendance and it was infectious.

In addition to the media the event brought out a good mix of former players, fans and boosters, and others connected to the university.  In terms of former Minutemen there was James Marcou, Sean Regan, Gerry Cahill (there’s a name from the old triangle era), and Steve Sullivan.  Former basketball player and current broadcaster Tim Collins was among those assembled.  Various politicians and other power brokers made their way over from the nearby State House to meet the new coach.  President Marty Meehan, who was a major force behind Lowell hockey’s recent rise, spent a good amount of time speaking with Carvel.

In the opportunity I had to speak with coach Carvel I was probably more impressed by his listening than what he said.  He seem very interested in people’s thoughts on the team, the players, what went right, what has gone wrong.  He admittedly isn’t overly familiar with the team and it’s clear that he wanted to know what he’s inheriting.  He doesn’t sound like someone who is setting up a system that could be successful when he gets “his guys”.  He sounds like he’s trying to make the most of the strengths already present on the roster.  The most memorable thing he said was that when he met with the team he could tell they were “hungry”.

All in all a good day.  I hate to use the term “bandwagon” because there’s a negative connotation to it.  But it certainly seems like people are rallying to this coach and this program.  Obviously the struggles and personalities of the program in recent years turned a lot of people away towards other interests.  Having an energetic, engaging athletic director hire an extremely well-respected, established head coach to lead the program quickly signals to supporters that UMass hockey is worth their time and effort again.  Add in praise from people like Toot Cahoon and Jack Arena, both well-known and trusted to the UMass and Amherst community, and you have instant credibility.

The team is still technically in last place in Hockey East and there’s likely a long and challenging road ahead for the program to get it to where everyone wants it to be.  But today was the first step.  And judging by all those taking pictures and shaking hands with him, coach Carvel will not be walking that road alone.

There will eventually be a lot of stories coming out of today’s events.  Here are the ones available to pass along currently.

Mike McMahon of College Hockey News has this piece that  focuses in on Bamford’s search process and how he chose Carvel. “We couldn’t figure out what we needed until we figured out what we were” is a pretty interesting quote from Bamford.

McMahon has a second story on what’s ahead for Carvel short-term and long-term as he attempts to turn around the UMass program.

McMahon also posted the audio of his interviews this afternoon.

The Collegian recap of the press conference has some good reaction from forward Austin Plevy to the hire.

Dan Malone, who with Matt Vautour did double duty going to the events on both sides of the state, has this piece for Masslive talking about how Carvel decided on UMass and his background as coach.

The Berkshire Eagle’s Howard Herman has some good coverage of this morning’s introduction.

This story from the Boston Herald includes quotes from former St Lawrence coach Joe Marsh as well as Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna, who was at the event in Boston today.

Carvel joined Boston Herald radio for an interview this afternoon where he talked about his vision for the program, how he came to his decision, and some interesting comments on committed recruits.  He mentions that one of the current recruits has already indicated that he welcomes the coaching change and remains committed.

Carvel and President Marty Meehan:

Jack Lyons covers Saint Lawrence and the ECAC for USCHO and had a series of Tweets outlining what UMass fans can expect from Carvel-led teams:

There is likely more coverage to come and I’ll do my best to pass it along as I can.

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3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  April 1, 2016

    Rocks- is there any word on a “meet and greet” in Amherst?

    Like

    • Only one I’ve heard is May 2nd at the UMass Club. I’d think a Hangar event would be in the works as well

      Like

  2. That last comment was me!

    Like

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