St. Lawrence University men's hockey coach Greg Carvel knows what it is like to be part of a larger rookie class for a Division I hockey program. He also knows how to recruit a large rookie class.
Carvel and his coaching staff have 11 newcomers to compete for spots on the 2013-14 roster when the season begins in October. The 11-member group is the largest since Carvel's rookie season of 1989-90 which matched that number of rookies on the roster and second only to the 1980-81 rookie class which brought in 15 players in Mike McShane's first year as head coach.
The average rookie group for the Saints has been five or six new players a year since 1999-2000, with nine coming in in 2010-11 and 2006-07 as the biggest groups prior to this season. The Saints graduated six players who were four year members of the roster last May, so in addition to helping fill the gaps in the lineup created by graduation, the large rookie group will provide competition for playing time and improve the program's overall depth.
"When Joe Marsh was out for the year on medical leave we were shorthanded as far as recruiting, and because of that we decided to try to get through with a shortened roster," explained Carvel. "We needed a good-sized class for the upcoming year to get our depth back to where it should be.
"We are real excited about the quality of the players we have coming in. It is a group where all can play and all can help right away. We have certain players who we will look for to fill big roles…players who can fill the holes left by graduation, perhaps not exactly as well as a Kyle Flanagan or a George Hughes, but close. I am looking forward to having four lines which will be much more consistent which will allow me to coach a little differently," Carvel added.
The Saint hockey class of 2017 includes defensemen Gavin Bayreuther, Mike Graham, Ben Massella and Eric Sweetman, forwards Alexander Dahl, Trevor Hills, Woody Hudson, Drew Smolcynski and Brian Ward and goaltender Tyler Parks. Add in forward Matt Carey, who sat out last season, but has four years of eligibility beginning this year and almost half the Saint roster is made up of new faces.
Bayreuther, Graham, Massella and Sweetman will contend for playing time on a Saint defensive unit which graduated All America George Hughes, assistant captain Jordan Dewey and Mac Stratford. Justin Baker, Pat Raley, Riley Austin and sophomore Ross McMullen are the returnees.
Bayreuther is a 6-1, 195 blueliner from Canaan, NH, who played for the Fargo Force in the USHL with nine goals and 24 assists for the western conference champions. He was a member of the USHL all rookie team and also earned All New England honors in both hockey and lacrosse while competing for the Holderness School.
Graham, 5-11, 185 from Toronto, played prep hockey at the Kent School and had five goals and 15 assists for the New England Prep league runners-up. He was MVP for Kent and first team All New England last season.
Massella, 6-1, 215 from Montreal, played for the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL and put up three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 54 games played. He attended Deerfield Academy prior to matriculating at St. Lawrence.
Sweetman, 5-11, 185 from Woodbine, MD played for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL and scored seven goals with 11 assists in 63 games, finishing the year with a plus-three plus/minus rating for the third place team in the USHL Eastern Conference.
Dahl, 6-0, 180 from Eau Claire, WI is another product of the Youngstown Phantoms and helped the team set a franchise win record as team captain. He scored 11 goals and had 13 assists for 24 points in 64 games. A good all-around athlete, Alexander also played baseball and football.
Hills, 5-9, 180 from Honeoye Falls, NY is the son of RIT associate head coach and former Bowling Green star Brian Hills, a two-time All America and two-time Hobey Baker finalist. Trevor Hills played at the Berkshire school where he scored 16 goals and had 19 assists in 45 games a year ago and was also a member of the baseball team.
Hudson, 6-3, 220 from Greece, NY split his USHL season between the Indiana Ice and the Chicago Steel a year ago, scoring 14 goals with six assists in 35 games as captain for Indiana and adding two goals and six assists in 30 games for Chicago. He attended Milton Academy and helped the team to a New England Championship in addition to playing football and lacrosse.
Smolcynski, 5-8, 173 from Hatfield PA, was a teammate of Hudson for both Indiana and Chicago last season, finishing the year with 20 goals and 25 assists in 65 games. He was assistant captain for Indiana, scoring 15 goals and 13 assists in 44 games for the Ice. He earned the rookie of the year award at the Gunnery in prep school and also played soccer and golf.
Ward, 6-1, 202 from Haverhill, MA has three seasons of hockey eligibility for the Saints after starting his career with a semester at Dartmouth. He played for the Tri-City Storm where he had 22 goals and 32 assists for 54 points in 42 games a year ago. He attended Governor's Academy where he played lacrosse and football.
Carey, the brother of Saint All America and Hobey Baker finalist Greg Carey, will have the opportunity to play with his brother in the upcoming season. The leading scorer for the Toronto Junior Canadiens with 69 points in 46 games, he attended St. Lawrence a year ago but had to sit out the season to meet NCAA eligibility standards. He earned Dean's List honors in his first year at SLU.
Parks, 6-6, 215 will compete for time in goal for the Saints in his rookie season. A native of St. Louis, MO, he played for the Minot Minatauros in the NAHL last season and compiled a 2.79 goals against average and a .917 save percentage in 39 appearances, leading the team in minutes and appearances. He was an honors student at Vianney High School.