Saints' First European Tour A Success!
While St. Lawrence University's men's hockey team has had a taste of international competition in the past, there has never been an opportunity nor an experience like the August 2015 tour of Italy and Switzerland. Coach Greg Carvel took advantage of a NCAA rule which allows teams to take a foreign tour once every four years and with the help of alumni, parents and friends of the program, funded a ten day tour which included three exhibition games as well as the opportunity to soak up the culture, history and cuisine of a beautiful part of the world. It was the first such tour for the men's hockey program, but after the experiences of the 2015-16 team it is unlikely to be the last.
"We went into the trip with a little a knowledge because teams from the league have done it before and raved about it," Carvel explained. "But the trip went beyond my expectations. The hockey experience was great…we played pro teams which were a good challenge for us. The places that we went were just beautiful, from Lake Como to driving through the Alps for every game we played, to touring the Mediterranean Coast and the Italian Riviera, to Venice to Rome…we were there for ten days and every day was better than the next.
"Probably the best part of the trip was to be together as a team for ten days straight and it was a great bonding experience. As a coach I am excited that it springboards us into the season, especially in a year that we will probably have some expectations on us as a hockey team.”
"The two Swiss Pro Teams were at our level. It was good competition…we won the first game 2-1, but we had four posts and the shots were pretty much unbalanced in our favor. The second game we won 6-2, but it was 3-2 in the third period. We scored to make it 4-2 and they pulled the goalie and we scored a couple more. The third game we played the Italian A League SG Cortina Team, but they were missing some Import Players. It was still a real good level of competition because we had to play hard and well enough to earn the wins."
The team arrived in Lake Como and spent the following day touring the area with a guided tour by boat. Game one of the competition aspect of the tour followed a guided tour of Zurich, Switzerland. The Saints beat GCK LNB, a Swiss professional team which currently plays in the National B League 2-1. Tuesday included a trip to the Ligurian Coast and opportunity for another boat ride, a day at the beach, sightseeing and shopping.
Wednesday included a tour of Aosta, Italy with an evening game against Martigny Red Ice, also a member of the Swiss National B League. The Saints won that game 6-2 and the next day headed for Cortina to play the Italian Pro team in that former Olympic town. The Saints recorded their third win of the trip against the SG Cortina team 6-3.The rest of the trip included tours of Venice and Rome and the chance to see some of the sights of two of the world's greatest cities.
"We were fortunate the weather was beautiful every day and it wasn't too hot. We had a couple of chances to swim in Lake Como and the Mediterranean Sea. From the sights to the people to the food to the experience of playing a different style of hockey in different venues, it was simply an awesome trip. And for me as a coach, even though you are with your team continuously during the year, it provided an environment to interact with the players in a different way…more informal. We like to preach that we are a family here at St. Lawrence and this provided an opportunity and an environment to really fortify and nurture relationships that we all have with one another."
"The trip was nearly flawless. Carvel said. We did had some bus time but most of it was in the Alps with unbelievable scenery. It was a really well-run tour and it is fun when you have a lot of people who haven't had that experience before. The Eurosportours staff and people we interacted with were all great and we had a couple of team meals in unique locations…the basement of a medieval prison for one…and the opportunity to spend two days in Rome and see some of the sights that are world famous was awesome. It is not a cliché to say it was a trip of a lifetime.”