Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Greg Carvel reflects on special relationship with Cale Makar ahead of Frozen Four

Carvel considers coaching the 20-year-old to be his highlight of the 2018-19 season
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The 2018-19 season has been a wild ride for coach Greg Carvel and the Massachusetts hockey team.

But years from now, when Carvel reflects on his third year with the Minutemen, the most memorable part of this historic season for him will be getting the opportunity to coach Cale Makar.

Getting to coach the player who anchored his team through the most successful season in UMass history and watching him set the precedent for future culture and expectations in being a Minuteman, is what Carvel will remember.

“It’s been a special opportunity,” coach Carvel told the media prior to the national semifinal matchup Thursday. “He’s a really special kid. I hope he’s rewarded [Friday] at the ceremony, because I think he’s everything that you want out of the Hobey Baker winner.

“I’m excited that in the two years, again, it’s gone exactly as I hoped it would for him, but it’s gone exactly as I hoped it would for us, me and Cale. I really like the relationship we have, the trust that we built, the way that I’ve been able to coach him, him coach me at the same time.”

The three-year coach referred to Makar as his “barometer,” someone to keep him in check and levelheaded during emotional dips in the season. For Carvel, it just takes one look from Makar on the bench to put him as ease.

Carvel noted that he’s made sure to stay out of Makar’s way as he’s developed into an NHL-caliber competitor, but he’s taken so much pleasure in helping him along the way. Carvel’s experience in the NHL has only made him more excited for Makar, because he knows how effective he can – and will be – at that level.

The relationship between the two is obviously unique to Carvel because of his simple love of coaching hockey, the mutual respect and the effort that the two have dedicated to making this a remarkable season.

But you can see every time that Carvel talks about Makar: it’s special.“I really like the fact that my six-year-old son knows him,” Carvel said. “He knows Cale Makar, and he talks about Cale. He says things like, ‘Dad, look at my cheeks, they’re red like Cale Makar’s.’

“Cale doesn’t want to talk about the future. He’s very much in the now. But I asked him to sign a picture for my son. He did that a couple days ago. I think being able to always know that we had an impact on a guy that’s going to be really, I think, a superstar at the next level has been memorable.”

After this season, Carvel feels as though Makar has grown up both physically and mentally. He needed to get bigger and stronger, develop the stamina that it takes to compete in Hockey East and at a national level. It’s something that Carvel feels Makar has officially accomplished.

“I think his two years at UMass have gone exactly as you could have hoped in the best-case scenario,” Carvel said. “We got a little bit farther to go to get to the ultimate best-case scenario.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MollieeWalkerr.

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