Former players Nolan Gluchowski & Jacob Pritchard are latest bulbs on UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel’s coaching tree

  • UMass hockey assistant Nolan Gluchowski, right, has known Minutemen head coach Greg Carvel, left, for 10 years. He joined his former coaches staff as an assistant after a year and a half as a volunteer coach. THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/17/2022 7:11:39 PM
Modified: 11/17/2022 7:11:39 PM

AMHERST – Nolan Gluchowski used to impact games with his body.

UMass coach Greg Carvel still remembers his former Saint Lawrence captain annihilating UMass’ Steven Iacobellis in 2016 during the – for a moment awkwardly named – Friendship Four in Northern Ireland. Gluchowski lowered a shoulder and blasted Iacobellis so hard he flipped a full somersault in the air and landed on his back.

“Hardest hit I’ve seen in college hockey. That’s the kind of kid he is. He was tough, he was skilled, he was unappreciated. He fits our identity here at UMass,” Carvel said. “When I coached him, I didn’t have to coach him. That’s rare.”

Gluchowski and Carvel have been linked since the latter recruited the former to his alma mater Saint Lawrence. They’ve known each other 10 years. That emotion crashed from Gluchowski.

“It was such a weird game. Carvel recruited a bunch of us that were still at Saint Lawrence and it was an emotional time for a lot of us. A lot of us were sad to see him go,” he said. “When we got the opportunity to play against the team he was now at, being a kid who was physical in my play I was going to take it on myself to send a message.”

His messages manifest differently now. Gluchowski worked as a volunteer assistant at UMass for a year and a half before Carvel promoted him to a full time assistant coach before this season. 

“It’s definitely different, you don’t have your physical impact on the game. Your impact is during the week and on the bench making little adjustments, trying to keep the guys calm,” Gluchowski said. “The biggest thing is understanding I don’t get to have a physical impact on the game anymore and my biggest impact is during the week.”

Gluchowski’s promotion opened the volunteer assistant promotion. Carvel dialed up another former Saint and Minuteman: Jacob Pritchard, who transferred to UMass for his final year of eligibility and was the Minutemen’s leading scorer during their run to the national championship game in 2019. Carvel called him the “most university well-liked kid that ever came through the program.”

“My year here as a player meant a ton to me,” Pritchard said. “We all want nothing but success for the UMass hockey program.”

Their time with Carvel impacted both players enough that it became a no-brainer to join him when their playing careers ended. The kind of players they were made it just as easy a decision for Carvel.

“They were good players that played the right way,” Carvel said. “They’re reflections that I want on our program.”

They get to see a different side of Carvel now that they’re not playing for him. He’s less gruff and more personable.

“As a player you’re intimidated by Carve at times,” Pritchard said. “He certainly has the demeanor of you want to make sure you’re being respectful to him and being courteous of him, but he’s a normal guy at the end of the day.”

Despite his influence, neither coach tries to be Carvel 2.0. Gluchowski approaches the bench with a more understated, positive tone. Pritchard is still finding his voice.

“He’s somebody that’s hard to replicate,”  Gluchowski said. “We don’t need a bunch of Carves on the bench that have high volume.”

Gluchowski and Pritchard are the latest bulbs on Carvel’s coaching tree, so new they're not quite branches yet. It includes Maine head coach Ben Barr (at UMass for six years), Colorado College coach Kris Mayotte (two years as an assistant at Saint Lawrence) and Michigan State assistant Jared DeMichiel (six years at UMass).

“There’s certain stages in life that you get to and you start to realize how old you are when you start hiring kids you recruited at one point,” Carvel said. “I think it’s great I have a coaching tree. I have a lot of pride in it. Just like the players I recruit, the coaches that I bring in, my job is to develop them as well as the players. I want to be surrounded by people I really enjoy being around but who also are willing to hold me accountable, willing to tell me what I need to hear.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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