Keeping Score: Fire and ice

Published: 8/5/2022 6:16:45 PM

Good morning!
There’s no better time than the hot days of August to deliver the cold hard facts about UMass hockey. Two months ago, coach Greg Carvel’s 2022-23 roster listed 15 skaters. Bobby Trivigno, Matt Kessel and Josh Lopina left for the NHL, Colin Felix signed with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, defenseman Ty Farmer transferred to North Dakota and Oliver MacDonald has “decided to retire,” in Carvel’s words.

Center Josh Nodler of Michigan State is the biggest offseason get. A dozen schools contacted him after he entered the transfer portal, but Nodler told, “UMass has all the opportunities I was looking for.”

Carvel says Nodler will move into Lopina’s spot on the first line. “We also added Tyson Dyck after Garrett Wait got injured, big loss,” said Carvel, referring to the high-scoring forward’s career-ending knee injury. “(Dyck) played in the BCHL last year and was drafted in the seventh round by the Ottawa Senators. We have three drafted forwards and one drafted defenseman in the incoming freshman class.”

Indeed, Carvel appears to have his team locked and loaded for the upcoming campaign. Newcomers Cole O’Hara and Kenny Connors were both drafted in the fourth round, and blue liner Noah Ellis was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the seventh round of the ’21 draft.

The burning question is what to expect between the pipes. Matt Murray’s gone after five years and 121 games, and Filip Lindberg signed with the Penguins and hasn’t played since November.

“We have a couple of viable options but this is a complete unknown to me,” said Carvel in an email. “It will be important how well the team plays in front of whoever the goalie is.”

As it stands, the job’s up for grabs between junior Henry Graham, sophomore Luke Pavicich and Arizona State junior transfer Cole Brady. Graham has no D-1 experience and Pavicich has spent 111 minutes in the crease, not enough to judge. Brady played 26 games over two seasons for the Sun Devils and had a less than stellar .905 save percentage.

“Same rule applies no matter who the goalie is,” added Carvel. “He can’t give up more than two goals (or he’ll get yanked).”

It took two seasons to clear out the trash, but in the four years since, Carvel’s teams have won a national title and been the national runner-up. The 2019-20 postseason was lost to COVID-19, and last season they won the Hockey East tournament and finished 22-13-2, losing in the NCAA tourney to Minnesota. The Minutemen and Quinnipiac were the only Northeast teams to finish in the top 10. The Bobcats were eighth and UMass was 10th.

The coaching staff is verboten from being at the rink until the first official practice on Sept. 1, but alumni Oliver Chau, Jake Gaudet, Carson Gicewicz and Philip Lagunov are helping to get the team ready. “All the seniors on the National Championship team are here training with our players this summer,” said Carvel. “It is awesome seeing our alumni help guide our newest Minutemen.”

The puck drops nine weeks from today against AIC at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, followed by back-to-back games against defending national champion Denver at the Mullins Center on Oct. 8 and 9. On Thanksgiving weekend the Minutemen will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to play in the Friendship Four with UMass Lowell, Quinnipiac and Dartmouth.

New bench staff

Success generates turnover, and Carvel has lost three fulltime assistants in a little over a year. In May, 2021, Ben Barr left to coach the Maine Black Bears and in May, Jared DeMichiel joined first year coach Adam Nightingale and former AIC assistant coach Mike Towns at Michigan State. In an act of either loyalty or irony, one of his last moves in Amherst was to convince Nodler to transfer to UMass.

Deerfield native Matt Lindsay is gone after one year on the bench. Lindsay had been an assistant coach under Guy Gadowsky at both Princeton and Penn State. “Matt is a high quality guy, just not the right fit for our program,” said Carvel.

Nolan Gluchowski was promoted to assistant coach after one year as a volunteer assistant, and Jacob Pritchard is an unpaid volunteer. Pritchard played for Carvel at St. Lawrence and subsequently transferred to UMass and helped the Minutemen get to the finals of the 2018-19 Frozen Four.

“Jake will primarily serve as our skill development coach,” said Carvel. “He’ll work with players outside of normal practice times to help hone their skills. He’s a full-time member of our staff and is included in all day-to-day activities, basically another assistant but not allowed to recruit or be compensated.

“I also hired Tommy Upton,” Carvel continued. “He served as the head coach for Madison in the USHL and took the perennial last place team to the league finals in one year at the helm.”

High standards

The UMass hockey team’s record the last four seasons is 94-39-8, basketball’s is 48-62, and football is 6-34. That’s right, six wins in 40 games.

How does Carvel do it?

“It’s all about culture and holding great kids to high standards,” he said. Indeed, last year’s roster included 19 players with GPA’s of 3.0 or higher.

Carvel’s salary is $600,000. Hoops coach Frank Martin and grid coach Don Brown have guaranteed contracts worth millions. Martin hasn’t won a game yet and is being heralded as the second coming of John Calipari. Brown hasn’t won an FBS game and is being heralded as the second coming of, well, Don Brown, because he took UMass to the 2006 I-AA title game.

“I understand that they have the potential to bring in more revenues than hockey but we have a much better chance for success on the national stage,” said Carvel. Indeed it does, as multiple primetime telecasts showcasing UMass hockey on ESPN and ESPN2 have proven.

Improve the ambience

Season tickets went on sale Tuesday and include a complimentary Hockey East playoff ticket if UMass hosts a game. Prices start at $264 for adults and $238 for seniors, faculty, and youths 12 and under, which comes to $15.53 and $14 respectively for anyone who wants to see the next Cale Makar, John Leonard or Frank Vatrano.

Single game tickets will go on sale next month and prices haven’t yet been determined.

Carvel needs an aide-de-camp to improve the fan experience. The man apparently responsible for that is Jeff Smith, the deputy athletic director of external affairs. Smith needs to do more for his $137,088 than stand behind the glass schmoozing with the Pond Club.

Here’s a few suggestions:

■Sell quality clothing and merchandise. “Everyone complains about the lack of choice and the quality of UMass Hockey souvenirs,” says Carvel. “I agree that it is pathetic. Has been since the day I got here.”

■ Hand out the night’s line combinations and defensive pairings as the fans come through the turnstiles. The more they know, the more they’re into the game.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Have a Cale Makar bobblehead night, or a Bobby Trivigno T-shirt promotion. “Fans love giveaways,” says Carvel.

■ Open practice to the public. “I don’t know if the public can watch,” says Carvel. “No one has ever cared to try in the past.”

■ Tell the PA announcer to tone it down. Show him clips of how the late Jack O’Neill did it. Being loud doesn’t make you good, it makes you obnoxious.

■ Play more pep band, less pumped in music.

■ Get rid of the dancing guy on the big screen after every UMass goal. That act’s gotten old.

■ Ditch the pizza slice costume during the shot-on-goal contest. It looks like it was just pulled out of the dumpster.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy