Gravel assists Frozen Four bid

PITTSBURGH – St. Cloud State University junior defenseman and Kingsford native Kevin Gravel didn’t score more than one goal in any game this season.

And he had just two multi-point efforts October 13, with one goal and one assist at New Hampshire and two assists February 9, versus Minnesota.

But the 6-foot-4, 200-pound finance major was a key component in helping the Huskies win the McNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions and defeating both Notre Dame and Miami in the NCAA Western Regional to reach the Frozen Four for the first time in program history.

One of just seven players on the team to play in every one of his team’s 42 games, Gravel and his defensive partner Tim Daly played the role of shutdown defensemen against some of the highest scoring lines in Division I.

“I like to be reliable defensively first and then help score goals. We have plenty of people who can score so, if I’m doing my job and getting the puck to them, we have a chance to score.

“I think I had a pretty good season. I made strides which is what I always want to do and it’s always good when your team has success on a national level. It was a really fun year and I’m glad I got to experience it.”

Gravel left home to play the 2008-09 season for Marquette in the North American Hockey League before jumping to Sioux City in the United States Hockey League for 2009-10 and played in the USHL All-Star game.

He was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Gravel’s father, Jim, also played for St. Cloud from 1977-1981.

“Because of that it (St. Cloud) was a school I was interested in, but I visited some other schools. But once I took a visit up to campus and saw what was happening with the new rink and the strides they were making with the program I couldn’t be more excited and felt it was the right fit. And with my dad being from there and I have family in Minnesota, it turned out to be the right choice.”

“My dad was excited that I chose St. Cloud, and every weekend he could, he drove the six hours. I think he only missed two or three home games plus he made the trip to Toledo and here to Pittsburgh.”

St. Cloud lost in the Frozen Four semifinals to top-seed Quinnipiac 4-1 with Gravel getting the primary assist on the Huskies only goal of the contest.

“I was hollering to Thors (teammate Cory Thorson) and he made a good play to get me the puck. I tried to throw it on net and kind of fanned on it and then it hit a body and bounced to (Joey) Benik. Unintentional assist, but I’ll take it.

“They (Quinnipiac) came out hot and really didn’t have an answer for it. Give credit to them. They came out fired up and were the better team.

“It’s hard to deal with now, but within week or months to come I think we’ll sit down and look at this. A lot people play their whole careers and don’t get to this (the Frozen Four) level that we reached.

“Obviously it was a great year for us, but we came up two wins short and that’s what hurts the most.”