AMHERST — The new hockey coach at the University of Massachusetts says he's ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
"I have to find out what we have here. I've asked people I respect about what is here, and they say they don't think it's a huge rebuild," said Greg Carvel. "But at the same time, it is. When you finish where we did in the league, there's a lot of improvement needed.
"I just went through this, and I think this team is in a better situation than the one I got into at St. Lawrence."
The new UMass coach replaces John Micheletto, who was let go after the Minutemen finished 8-24-4 this past season and was 39-88-13 in four years behind the UMass bench.
Carvel was introduced as the fourth coach of the Minutemen since the program was restored for the 1993-94 season. Carvel comes to UMass after serving as the head coach at St. Lawrence of the ECAC Hockey League. His record at St. Lawrence was 72-63-5.
This past year, the Saints were 19-14-4. The three ECAC teams that finished ahead of St. Lawrence in the standings all qualified for the NCAA Tournament. One, Quinnipiac, is playing in next weekend's Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.
Carvel gets a five-year contract at UMass.
At a press conference in the Massachusetts Room of the Mullins Center, the new coach said that he first heard from UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford about 10 days ago, concerning the new job. Carvel said he wasn't expecting a call.
"I wasn't unhappy where I was. I grew up in Canton. I played at St. Lawrence and captained the team and I took over for Joe Marsh," Carvel said in his opening remarks. "I was totally invested and very proud of what we did and my staff, and what the university did to support us.
"When Ryan first offered me the job, it was a very difficult decision. But every decision I've made in hockey has been about challenging myself."
Carvel took over a team in Canton that had been 11th in the ECAC in 2011-12 and led the Saints to eighth, fifth, second and fourth-place finishes in the league.
It's the second major coaching hire for Banford, who just passed his one-year anniversary as the UMass athletic director. He also named Fran O'Leary men's soccer coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.
As to the hockey coach, the athletic director said in an interview that Carvel was in his sights from the start.
"I talked to a cross-section of people who were interested in this opportunity. I'll be honest with you, I talked to a lot on the phone, talked to some in person, brought some to the campus," said Bamford. "At the end of the day, I had my sights on [Carvel] really from the beginning."
As a player at St. Lawrence, he scored 37 goals and had 87 assists. Drafted in the 1991 supplemental draft by Pittsburgh, Carvel never had an NHL playing career. He was an assistant coach with Anaheim and Ottawa, making two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals. In 2015, he was an assistant to Dan Bylsma with the U.S. National Team, that won a bronze medal in the World Championships in the Czech Republic.
Carvel also earned a Masters Degree in Sport Management from UMass' Isenberg School. While there in 1996, he assisted Jack Arena at Amherst College.
"I couldn't talk to [Carvel] initially, because he was still playing and I wanted to be respectful of that. Once I had the opportunity to get with him, we zeroed in on him solely," said Bamford. "If you're going to talk about finalists, he was probably our only finalist."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.