Trevor Large on leading Canisius to the postseason and building a culture

” If you’re a Griff we want you here.”

“A Griff is positive, competitive, and team first. “

Canisius Hockey Head Coach Trevor Large’s culture at Canisius comes down to down to those statements listed above.

Trevor Large knows what it means to build culture and a program. His mentors and competitors in the Atlantic Hockey Association have helped him get to where he is in the coaching world. Large learned the value of building a team culture, and understanding what to look for in recruiting, in part working with Army West Point Head Coach Brian Riley.

The influence of Brian Riley in the college hokcey world extends far beyond Army West Point. The Atlantic Hockey Association has two of his former assistants leading teams that have had superb regular seasons amidst a global pandemic. Eric Lang has secured AIC’s third straight finish atop the conference, Army West Point is battling for an at large bid, and Trevor Large’s Canisius Golden Griffins have had their best regular season in the past three yearrs, going 8-5 including winning four of their home games.

Large praised the camaraderie of Riley and Lang, saying he and Lang learned and try to, like Riley does focus on “being a genuine person, and caring about your players.” They all worked together on the same staff in West Point. Large moved from West Point to Canisius to be an assistant coach after the 2013-2014 season, and then ascended to the lead role he has been in for four seasons. Large praised the mentorship of the other two, and noted their friendship, saying “we cheer each other on,” when their teams are not playing each other of course. On Atlantic Hokey at large, Large believes that “the reality of it is, that the progression of our conference at some point must warrant two teams.. its becoming undeniable that there should be a closer look at having two teams that should be in that tournament.”

One thing that all of the men,, Large, Riley, and Lang have in common was explained well by Large, saying that ” we’re all doing things that prepare people for more than just hockey,”

One of the biggest moments for Large’s program came in his second season. His group engineered a sweep of a nationally ranked Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota team midway through the 2018-2019 season, which put his group on the national radar pretty quickly. Large remembers that accolades for his group in part because, as he said, “people that I didn’t know were sending me congratulations texts.”

On a season that has seen the Golden Griffins go on multiple pauses, Large takes an upbeat view of the stops his program has gone through. He said that, “the biggest message that our players have heard.. is there’s a difference between adversity and inconveniences… our guys have taken on the mentality that those are all inconveniences.”

This weekend, Large’s group has a bye before facing the RIT Tigers next weekend in the Quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. As he said of the bye after all the pauses, “we’re maybe more prepared to play in two weeks than in years past.” His staff is using the extra time to help, as Large said, “firm up details on how we want to play.” His group has a challenge on their hands, as the Tigers come to Buffalo with one of the top goal scorers in the country in Will Calverley and a group defined by its depth looking to advance.

Canisius, has a lot of goaltending depth, as Matt Ladd and Jacob Barczewski have played a nearly equal amount of time this season, and, as Large said of them “both of them have won big games, both of them have progressed in their own way.” They both use their skills to their advantages. Jacob uses his athleticism and positioning well, while Ladd uses his size and is able to track pucks well enough to make most saves without needed drama. Large and his staff have the luxury of chooosing their goaltender each game. His staff looks at each game as its own event in figuring out those things.

As to his depth up front, Large enjoys a wide committee of scorers to help his group progress. That group of scoring is lead by sophomore Keaton Mastrodonato. Large said “he pushed us to bring him in early by his play, and that he was ready for college hockey.” Keaton tied for the national lead in shorthanded goals in his rookie season, and is an ambassador for the program. Large added more on Keaton praising “his drive to be the best player on the ice every single day” , and adding that ” “his consistency is spectacular.”

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