After taking UMass to national championship game, Carvel named USCHO Coach of the Year

11 Apr 19:  The University of Massachusetts Minutemen play against the Denver University Pioneer in a national semifinal of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Frozen Four at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. (Jim Rosvold)
UMass coach Greg Carvel gets an explanation from the officials during the Minutemen’s Frozen Four win April 11 over Denver (photo: Jim Rosvold).

After leading Massachusetts to its greatest season in program history, Greg Carvel has been named the 2019 USCHO Coach of the Year.

Carvel’s Minutemen completed a 31-10-0 season that included a Hockey East regular-season championship and an NCAA Regional championship for the first time. The team earned a Frozen Four berth by shutting out both Harvard and Notre Dame with a pair of 4-0 victories, then defeated Denver 4-3 in overtime in its first-ever Frozen Four appearance to advance to the national championship game.

UMass finished the season among the nation’s elite in virtually every category, including a third-place finish in scoring offense and seventh-place finish in scoring defense. The Minutemen posted the top Division I power-play unit with 43 goals, good enough for a top-ranked 28.5 percent clip. It bookended a penalty kill that finished the season just under 90 percent but still placed in the year-end top five.

The team ascended to that mark with a regular season for the ages. UMass ascended the USCHO.com rankings to place No. 1 for the first time ever, and defenseman Cale Makar became the first-ever Hockey East Player of the Year and Hobey Hat Trick finalist. Last weekend, Makar finished the season by earning the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s best player. He was one of six Hockey East All Stars on the roster this year, a list that included conference scoring champion Mitchell Chaffee.

It all occurred at a program with only one 20-win season in the 25-year history of Hockey East. The 2006-07 Minutemen advanced to the NCAA tournament with a 21-13-5 year, but it remained one of only three .500-or-better seasons since the program joined Hockey East in 1994. In three of the last five seasons, UMass had failed to win 10 regular-season games.

Carvel narrowly edged American International College’s Eric Lang for the award after the two teams brought a measure of postseason glory to Massachusetts’ western region. Though the Minutemen advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2007 and defeated top-seeded Clarkson in the East Regional that year, this year saw both AIC and UMass advance out of the first round and come within a game of meeting in the Frozen Four.

Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin also received votes after his Bulldogs won their second consecutive national championship.