Hockey is tough love for coach

In Sports /

By Scott Carefoot

As Louie Carnevale takes off his stakes after an early morning practice at Maple Leaf Gardens, he talks about his love of hockey.

“Hockey is my life,” he says.  “I’m never happier than in practice or when I’m on the bench in a game.”

He certainly doesn’t do it for the money.  Carnevale runs a successful insurance and financial services business.

So he does it for the love.  But love hurts sometimes, as some of his players could tell you.  Carnevale is, by his own admission, a “very demanding guy.

Team captain Chris Sturino says most players understand that Carnevale is tough because he’s trying to motivate them to do their best.

“He is an intimidating guy, but you have to feed off that,” says Sturino.  “He puts a lot of pressure on you, but he does it for your own good.”

Sturino’s in his third year with the team.  He admits to being intimidated by Carnevale when he started out, but says he’s a good guy when you get to know him.

“He’s a good coach, he’s fair with the players.  He’s treated me well,” Sturino says.

Carnevale hopes his players understand why he’s hard on them sometimes.  Winning doesn’t come easy, especially at Ryerson, so he knows he has to make his players work harder than the other guys.

“Players sometimes think I’m picking on them but they look back and see I was teaching them a work ethic and respect for others,” he says.

Carnevale says he enjoys the challenges this job provides him.

According to assistant athletic director Chuck Mathies, Carnevale’s biggest challenge has been trying to keep players from abandoning ship.

“Some of the players we recruit don’t stick it out with the program.  I think one of the problems that he‘s aware of is that we’re not hanging on to players long enough to get four years out of them,” says Mathies.

Mathies promoted Carnevale form assistant coach after the 1993-94 season when then-coach Jim Cairns left the school.  Mathies says it’s not fair to judge Carnevale by won-loss record, and praises him for working hard to bring top players to Ryerson.

Carnevale wants to win as badly as any other coach, but knows that eh has other priorities at Ryerson.

“The key is getting them [players] to stay in school, getting them to realize how important that is,” he says.

He speaks from experience.  Carnevale’s business sense outside the rink comes from his Business Marketing degree from Cornell University.

He’s still working on matching that success inside the rink at Ryerson, Despite his struggle, he gets a gleam in his steely blue eyes when asked what he wants to accomplish.

“I want to make the playoffs,” he says.  Carnevale even looks beyond that lofty goal with this year’s hard working team.

“In a short playoff series, we could be competitive…”

The Rams have definitely adopted Carnevale’s work ethic this year.  Both the rookies who are not used to adversity and the veterans who have seen it all before are learning that just because you love the game, it doesn’t always love you back.

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