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Carvel goes big for first recruiting class

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With the St. Lawrence University hockey program in a state of transition two seasons ago with the retirement of Joe Marsh, the coaching staff wasn’t afforded the full time needed for recruiting.

St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel has made up for that as 11 players have signed on for next season in his first full recruiting class.

The Saints’ incoming class includes six forwards — redshirt Matt Carey, the younger brother of St. Lawrence winger Greg Carey, as well as Alex Dahl, Trevor Hills, Woody Hudson, Drew Smolcynski and Brian Ward. Also included are four defensemen, Gavin Bayreuther, Michael Graham, Ben Masella and Eric Sweetman; and a goalie, Tyler Parks.

“We have a lot of guys and you need different kinds of guys in different spots,” Carvel said. “I’m excited about all 11 of these guys. I think in the situation we were in this past season, they could have stepped in and helped us, especially down at Yale when we were playing with five defensemen and 11 forwards. We really struggled with a lack of depth last season and that won’t be an issue for us this year, we’ll have a full complement of players that we’ll be able to rely on.”

The Saints have lost a sizeable portion of their offensive production with the departure of All-American seniors Kyle Flanagan and George Hughes.

Carvel sees both Ward and Bayreuter as potentially the two top players in this incoming group.

Ward, a center and a native of Haverhill, Mass., was “heavily recruited” and chose St. Lawrence over Northeastern and several other schools.

“I think the main thing that impressed me was coach Carvel with his track record,” Ward said. “He was very sincere with me and they gave a good indication of where they see me fitting into the program. Also, I love the school, it’s in a nice area — it kind of reminds me of where I grew up and also I really like the rink and the atmosphere there; I was fortunate enough to see them play Clarkson and that was fun to watch.”

While Ward isn’t the same type of player as Flanagan, Carvel anticipates he’ll make a significant contribution offensively.

“Brian is projected to be a top centerman for us, he’s another guy we see filling in where Kyle left off,” Carvel said. “He’s not similar to Kyle in style, but we see him taking his spot in the lineup.”

A transfer from Dartmouth, Ward, spent the past three seasons at the junior level with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, where he generated 54 points, including 22 goals this season.

“I think I’ve matured a lot since I went to Dartmouth,” said Ward, 22, who has just three years of eligibility remaining. “I’ve kind of seen it all and been through a lot and I think I can instill what I’ve learned from my experiences into the younger guys.”

Carvel hopes Bayreuther can make an impact with the graduation of Hughes, who was the nation’s top offensive defenseman.

“Gavin’s a guy who we see coming in and filling George Hughes’s role as a puck-carrying, offensive-minded, power-play defenseman,” Carvel said. “We like his ability to skate and move the puck and create offense from the blue line.”

Bayreuther has displayed an offensive touch this season in juniors as he recorded 33 points, including 24 assist, in 60 games in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders and the Fargo Force.

Matt Carey was originally set to join the Saints last season as a freshman, but was declared a “non qualifier” academically and didn’t make the team.

“He had to prove he could go to school and do well,” Carvel said of the younger Carey. “He’s a bright kid and he had 3.5 GPA in his first semester, so he showed that he can do well academically.”

As a redshirt, Carey has four full years of athletic eligibility left. In his last season, Carey combined to post 69 points, including 33 goals, in 48 games with the Hamilton Red Wings and the Toronto Junior Canadiens in 2011-12.

“Matt’s a versatile forward who can play center or wing, depending on what we need,” Carvel said. “He’s got a good skill level and is a competitive kid with decent size.”

Dahl, a center who is coming off two seasons at the junior hockey level, will be expected to help out on both ends of the ice for the Saints.

“We’re projecting him to be more of a defensive-minded forward,” Carvel said. “He’s a very smart kid, he does extremely well in school, he’s got good skill level and is a good skater.”

A native of Eau Claire, Wis., Dahl totaled 24 (11-13) points in 64 games with Youngstown of the USHL this season.

The Saints also hope to receive offensive production out of the 5-foot-8 Smolcynski, a winger, who has displayed a scoring touch at the junior level.

Smolcynski totaled 45 points, including 20 goals, in 65 games with the Chicago Steel and Indiana Ice of the USHL this season.

Hudson, a native of Greece in the Rochester area, who also played for both Chicago and Indiana of the USHL this past season, stands at 6-2 and 215 pounds. Hudson recorded 67 penalty minutes in 65 games in the USHL this season and also totaled 28 (16-12) points.

Hills, a Rochester native, is a winger who the St. Lawrence staff will help provide the lineup with depth. Hills rang up 113 penalty minutes in 101 games in two seasons with the Chilliwack Chiefs as well as notching 67 (27-40) points.

Listed at 5-11 and 183 pounds, Sweetman racked up 152 penalty minutes in 123 games in two seasons with the Youngstown Phantoms, and also recorded a plus-minus rating of plus-10.

Montreal native Masella is another recruit which the St. Lawrence staff hopes will provide more depth on the defensive end. Masella recorded 13 (3-10) points this season with Chilliwack of the BCHL, but also rang up 86 penalty minutes in 56 games.

The Saints will also look for versatility from Graham, who starred during his prep career for Kent School in Connecticut as an all-around defender.

Parks, listed at 6-6 and 210 pounds, should provide the Saints with good size in goal, as well as providing more competition for starting time at SLU.

“He’s a big kid in the net, but (St. Lawrence assistant and goalie coach) Kris Mayotte thinks he sees a lot of potential in him,” Carvel said. “At that size, I think he moves pretty well and obviously takes up a lot of the net.”

A native of Imperial, Mo., Parks went 19-8-3 this past season with Minot of the NAHL, with 2.79 goals-against average and recorded a pair of shutouts.

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