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Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

In early December 2018, Greg Carvel was in his third season as head coach at the University of Massachusetts men’s hockey team and the program just became top-ranked in the latest U.S. College Hockey online poll. Later that season, the Minutemen made the NCAA final, but lost to Minnesota-Duluth.

However, through a steady stream of recruiting top-notch talent practically worldwide, Canton’s homegrown Carvel and his assistant coaches reformed the Minutemen.

After Saturday’s 5-0 win over St. Cloud State in the NCAA title game, Carvel reached the apex of his head coaching career.

UMass also had to overcome adversity with four players out of the lineup because of COVID-19 protocol precautions, but despite that obstacle, it beat two-time defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth in overtime in Thursday’s semifinal.

The Minutemen (20-5-4) not only won the crown, they dominated in supreme fashion — winning their final 14 games.

It’s an excellent story when a local native achieves national recognition, but especially sweet when a five-year ascent goes from the basement to the penthouse in a steady climb.

Carvel left as St. Lawrence University’s head coach after four seasons for UMass in March 2016, guiding the Saints to a 72-63-15 record with a pair of ECAC Hockey quarterfinal and semifinal appearances each. In his SLU tenure, Carvel coached four All-Americans, two ECAC Rookies of the Year, an ECAC Player of the Year and three Hobey Baker finalists.

Carvel’s first season at UMass was rocky, going 5-29-2 overall, with a 2-19-1 last-place finish in Hockey East. In 2017-18, the Minutemen showed steady improvement, finishing 17-20-2 overall, and 9-13-2 for eighth place in the conference, including a league quarterfinal showing.

Carvel, who back in May 2018 was given a contract extension by UMass through 2023, enjoyed the win with a SLU transfer player on the UMass roster. Former SLU captain Carson Gicewicz, who endured tough three-plus seasons in Canton, scored a team-high 17 goals, added 7 assists for 24 points in 28 games.

n From The Seattle Times columnist Dwight Perry — Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who graduated from Lisbon High School, to ESPN.com, on the Pelicans’ 6-foot-7, 284-pound Zion Williamson: “You’ve got to have a lot of courage to stand in there and get run over by that guy, because he’s coming at you fast. ... Like, it’s not just an Amtrak. It’s an Acela. It’s the fast one that doesn’t stop.”

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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