Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Leading UMass hockey to the national championship game, Greg Carvel is enjoying the moment

Third-year head coach in high spirits ahead of national title game

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Leading UMass hockey to the national championship game, Greg Carvel is enjoying the moment

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Amin Touri, Sports Editor

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Suffice it to say, Greg Carvel’s enjoying himself.

Having led the Massachusetts hockey team to its first NCAA championship game appearance after a 4-3 overtime victory over Denver on Thursday, the third-year head coach was in high spirits for Friday’s press conference.

Carvel shared a story with the media on Friday about his post-season travel plans that were disrupted by UMass’ run to the Frozen Four.

“I’ll share a secret with you. My parents go to Florida and I go visit them every year with my kids,” Carvel said, smiling throughout. “That’s kind of our getaway. In September I made a flight for April 13th at 6:30 for a family trip. In February, I was like, oh my God. I made that reservation, stuck it in a desk somewhere. When I made it, I had no idea. I thought the season would be over. It’s the only week with my kids are off of school. I made the flight. It hit me, oh my God. I think we have a flight for the same time as the national championship game.

“This morning I made changes to my flight reservations. It was the happiest $200 per flight charge I’ll ever make. But that’s been the biggest stress in my family. ‘How are we going to get to Florida?’” Carvel said with a falsetto voice, imitating his kids. “I said, ‘We’re going to Buffalo and hopefully stay there.’ That consumed an hour of my morning. But that’s all set. We got a couple days before I got to worry about that.”

Friday was as good a mood as Carvel’s been in since taking over at UMass, and for good reason, after Marc Del Gaizo buried a one-timer in sudden death to seal what was arguably the biggest win in the history of the school, let alone the program.

Carvel has some fond memories in Buffalo’s KeyBank Center, as he spoke Wednesday about Daniel Alfredsson’s overtime winner in 2007 to send the Ottawa Senators — Carvel was an assistant coach under Bryan Murray at the time — to the Stanley Cup Finals. Carvel called Del Gaizo’s winner “comparable” to Alfredsson’s.

“Better shot, for sure,” Carvel said with a laugh. “Not even close.

“Very comparable. Highest point my time in the NHL, now my highest point as an NCAA coach. I hope tomorrow night’s game goes to overtime right now.”

He was smiling and laughing and cracking jokes throughout Friday’s presser, and it’s been that sort of week for Carvel, in the midst of the biggest stretch of his career as a head coach. He was in a similarly good mood on Wednesday before the Denver game, and kept coming back to one theme.

“Similar to my feelings for my players, I’m very proud,” Carvel said Wednesday. “It’s a very proud week for me and our staff. Very proud of what we’ve been able to do. I think one thing that I feel, as well, is I’m proud of what we’re doing for the university. It’s a big state school. To be able to work up the energy and the support that we have on campus, in town; when I got to UMass, it was definitely missing. From day one, all I’ve ever said is I want to bring pride to the program, to the alumni, all the guys that wore the jersey before, and for these kids. They’re an outstanding group. They’ve sacrificed, done absolutely everything we’ve asked of them.

“To me, this is a very rewarding weekend. Again, trying to stay out of the way, soak it in as much as I can, and hope that we got two more wins in us.”

The Minutemen had at least one win left in them, and Carvel’s hoping they’ve got one more. But until the puck drops at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, Carvel seems to be soaking it all in and enjoying the moment, and 31 wins later, it’s a right he’s earned.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.

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