Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Carvel fills many items on Bamford’s wish list

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Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

It’s easy to see why athletic director Ryan Bamford tabbed former St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel to be the next coach of the Massachusetts hockey team.

Carvel checks off a number of items that were reported to be on Bamford’s wish list by Mike McMahon of College Hockey News. First and foremost, Bamford wanted someone with head coaching experience. Carvel spent the last four seasons building a small Saints program into a consistently competitive team in the ECAC.

Bamford also wanted to “make a splash,” and Carvel fits that mold as well because of his professional experience. Before St. Lawrence, Carvel spent 12 years as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators. He rubbed elbows on the same staff as Mike Babcock, widely regarded to be one of the best hockey coaches in the world, and coached NHL stars like Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson.

In a press release from UMass, NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said Carvel was “one of the best coaches available outside of the NHL,” and Senators executive vice president/general manager Bryan Murray said Carvel was “innovative and creative.”

Additionally, Bamford wanted someone who could get fans excited about the program and reverse the trend of declining attendance at Mullins Center, which has fallen from an average of 5,313 fans per game in 2009-10 to 2,868 last year.

“We talked a lot about that in the process,” Bamford said at Carvel’s introductory press conference last Thursday. “The first time we met… it was great conversation regarding building and engaging with the students and this community and our alumni having a presence in this state, which is a state that cares about hockey.

“He recognizes it because he’s been here, he’s seen it, and he understands that,” Bamford continued. “When I did my homework on him, that was a strength of his at St. Lawrence. He is a unifier; he is somebody who can do that. That really resonated with me in this process.”

Carvel, for his part, said he would be dedicated to re-invigorating a lethargic fan base.

“I will work very hard to build this hockey team, but I will work just as hard to connect the student body to the team, the town, the alumni, and anybody in the state of Massachusetts who is a hockey fan,” Carvel said.

It’s not often an athletic director can fill every item on their wish list, but Bamford has come close by bringing in Carvel as the next leader of the hockey program.

Frozen Four field set

Boston College, Quinnipiac, North Dakota and Denver are set to compete for the NCAA championship at the Frozen Four this weekend in Tampa, Florida.

Of the six Hockey East schools who qualified for the NCAA tournament, the Eagles are the only one to advance out of their regional bracket. BC beat Harvard 4-1 in the opening round before holding off a late rally by Minnesota-Duluth to punch their ticket to Tampa with a 3-2 victory.

Quinnipiac – the other New England school represented in the tournament – dominated on the way to its second Frozen Four appearance in four seasons. The Bobcats blanked RIT 4-0 in the first round before knocking off UMass Lowell 4-1 in a quarterfinal matchup.

Single-elimination hockey tournaments are difficult to predict, but I’ll take a guess anyway. In the unofficial New England championship between BC and Quinnipiac, I like the Eagles because of Coach Jerry York, a stable of future NHL talent and the best goaltender in college hockey, Thatcher Demko. In the Denver vs. North Dakota matchup, I’ll go with the Fighting Hawks to advance behind the dynamic trio of Brock Boeser, Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz. In a classic BC-North Dakota championship game, I’ll take the Eagles to win their sixth national championship on Demko’s shoulders.

Vatrano back with Bruins

After tearing up the AHL with the Providence Bruins, former UMass forward Frank Vatrano was promoted to Boston and is starting to find his scoring stride at the professional level.

Vatrano scored a goal in his first game back with the Bruins on March 23 against the New York Rangers and netted another one over the weekend in a 6-5 win against the St. Louis Blues. Overall, Vatrano has two goals and two assists in six appearances in his second stint in Boston.

Vatrano grabbed headlines with his prolific scoring pace in Providence, scoring 33 goals in 33 appearances with the baby Bruins. He has 49 points overall this season in the AHL and his 33 goals lead the league despite other top scorers playing in as many as 72 games compared to Vatrano’s 33.

Vatrano has eight goals and three assists in 36 appearances in the NHL this season. Since being recalled, Vatrano has been a key offensive presence among Boston’s bottom six forwards, recently finding a home next to Ryan Spooner on the Bruins’ third line.

Boston would appreciate any scoring help at the moment, as the Bruins will likely need to win their final three games of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth and avoid missing out on the postseason for a second year in a row.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossGien.

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