Large In Charge
New Canisius Coach Keeping the Winning Going
by Melissa Burgess/CHN Reporter
Trevor Large is in his eleventh season behind an Atlantic Hockey bench, but this year is a little different. Instead of acting as an assistant coach, he’s the man in charge.
With two months of the season under his belt, new Canisius head coach Large and his team are starting off on a good footing. The team is currently sitting atop the Atlantic Hockey standings, coming off a pair of wins over Army this past weekend, and preparing to face a nationally-ranked Clarkson team Dec. 2.
The Griffs are building off a season that saw them win the conference’s regular season. Although there are still plenty of games ahead, with Large at the helm and a handful of returning players on the roster, things are looking bright.
This is Large’s first season in a head coaching position with a college hockey team, but it isn’t his first rodeo with the Griffs.
Large, a native of Brampton, Ontario, has been with the Canisius program since 2014, spending three seasons as an assistant coach before being promoted to the head coach job.
In addition, 25 players returned from last year’s team, including new captain Ryan Schmelzer, now in his senior season.
This familiarity, Large said, helped him in his transition to the bench boss gig.
“When you know the people, specifically the players… and have that relationship, it’s easier,” he said. “You know who they are, and how to motivate them.”
“I know the Harborcenter, I know the players; I know the things that have happened around the Canisius hockey community,” Large added. "Those things have definitely helped me in the transition.”
Large replaced Dave Smith, who had been head coach of the Griffs for 12 seasons before moving onto a job with RPI.
The 37-year-old Large said working with Smith also helped him get ready for his first head coach job. Large is the seventh head coach in Canisius hockey history, and the fourth in the team’s Division-I era.
“For me, having a mentor like Dave Smith,” he said, “that has helped prepare me for the moments that have happened.”
Large isn’t the only coach returning to the Griffs locker room from last year’s squad. Scott Moser remains in his role as an assistant coach; Taylor Nelson, a former Ferris State All-American goaltender, was added as the team’s other assistant behind Large.
Before he joined Canisius several years ago, Large enjoyed a playing career that included three years with the Brampton Capitals and four seasons at Ferris State.
He began his off-ice career in 2006, as an assistant coach with AIC. After two seasons there, he spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Army. In 2014, he made his way to his third Atlantic Hockey team: the Griffs.
Now, about a quarter through his first season as head coach, he’s got one goal in mind: win.
“It’s a simple message to say, but the expectation is, the guys concentrate on how we play together, and they know what the goal is,” Large said.
“We want to win every game. Is it attainable? Probably not. But that objective, for our guys to understand that, it requires every player, every play, if we’re going to win,” he added.
“If we give the proper effort, we should be in every game, and we should win a lot.”
Through the first part of the season, and moving forward, Large said his goal has been to make sure the players understand that the coaching staff cares about them.
“All the resources we have are going to them,” he said. “They are the reason we’re winning games. I’ve been happy with how much that emphasis has been on getting our team to play together.”
Last season, Canisius finished atop the Atlantic Hockey standings with an 18-4-6 conference record. Can they top that this season behind their new head coach?
Only time can tell, but entering the month of December, the Griffs are on a five-game winning streak. Through thirteen games, they’re off to a hot start, with an 8-4-1 record.
“We’ve had lots of different experiences so far in the season,” Large said. “Being up in games, being down on games.”
“Every game, our mentality is to evaluate how we’re playing, learn, and re-attack.”
The Griffs have a light month ahead, with just four games in the month of December. But it won’t be an easy one, as they face some tough opponents.
After hosting Clarkson, they’ll face a home-and-home series with “Battle of the Bridge” rival Niagara. Finally, the Griffs close out 2017 with a bout against Cornell.
As they move ahead, the goal is clear, as coach Large summed up in just one word: