UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel believes both Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro will be back for 2018-19 season

Freshmen have option to leave for NHL


(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

Massachusetts hockey freshmen Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro have decisions to make.

The two defensemen can either stay with UMass for their sophomore seasons or sign NHL contracts and turn pro, now that the Minutemen’s season is over.

Makar, the fourth overall selection to the Colorado Avalanche in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, poses a bigger threat to leave UMass because of his high draft status but Minutemen coach Greg Carvel sees it differently.

“My sense is that he’ll be back,” Carvel said. “I have not been in any conversations with Colorado. I’ve talked to their development coach throughout the season and they’re happy with his development.”

After a slow start to the year Makar turned it on late in the season, scoring four of his five goals in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign. His 21 points were good for fifth-most among the Minutemen.

“I think if he comes back he could be Hockey East Player of the Year, an All-American, a Hobey Baker candidate,” Carvel said. “You saw stretches of it late.

“He’s still learning how to train, how to recover, and how to live (his) life. It’s more than just showing up and putting on your skates,” Carvel added.

NHL teams generally like to sign their college prospects right after that player’s season ends and Carvel believes a decision on Makar’s future will be made “fairly soon”.

Ferraro was a second-round draft choice of the San Jose Sharks in 2017 and seems much more likely to return, simply based on talking with the stocky blueliner after Saturday night’s 7-2 loss to Northeastern.

“This group is something real special. Obviously, we did a lot this year considering how young we are and we kind of achieved over a lot people’s expectations,” Ferraro said. “That’s exciting for us and we’re never going to lose confidence, it’s a growing mentality, it’s a growth mentality. We’re pumped up for next year.

“Next year we’ll have a lot of new freshmen coming in and our freshmen from this year, we’re gonna have to elevate and get stronger for next year,” added Ferraro. “It’s going to be real exciting.”

Ferraro was UMass’ top defenseman scorer with 23 points and suited up for all 39 games.

Carvel is also more confident in Ferraro coming back and noted another year of college hockey would help No. 5 become a more “prolific puck-mover.”

“Both are extremely important players. I think they both learned a lot this year,” Carvel said. “The sense that I got after Saturday’s game was that we still have a lot of work to do and both want to be a part of it.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.