MINNEAPOLIS — Boston College junior forward Alex Carpenter was named the winner of the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. She becomes the 18th winner and first from her school to take home the trophy, which is presented annually to the top player in women’s NCAA Division I hockey.
“It’s unbelievable to be able to represent BC in this way,” Carpenter said. “They’ve given me so much, and to be able to give back to them like this is great. Huge testament to my teammates being the best teammates they can be for the past three years that I’ve been here. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Of course, most accomplishments begin even earlier, and that’s true for the daughter of Julie and Bob Carpenter from North Reading, Mass.
“Mom, you’ve been my biggest fan ever since I was little; thanks for being by my side every step of the way,” Carpenter said.
After being known to many over the years as Bob Carpenter’s daughter, winning the Kazmaier provides another reason why he can now be introduced as Alex Carpenter’s father.
“Dad, what I have learned from you about hockey is insurmountable, but what I’ve learned from you as a person is even better,” she said. “Whenever I’m asked who my favorite hockey player is, you’ll always be my answer.”
Carpenter has helped the Eagles to reach the Frozen Four in each of her three seasons.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see this program grow, and what I’ve witnessed has been amazing,” Carpenter said.
Those at Boston University have been afforded a unique view to the rise of Carpenter and BC as their chief rivals in Hockey East.
“I send my sincere congratulations to her, to Boston College, and to their whole program,” Boston University coach Brian Durocher said. “She’s a fantastic hockey player, who in the best of my recollection, is continuing to get better, and I think that’s the ultimate compliment. She hasn’t plateaued or she hasn’t leveled out. She’s in the best shape of her life. She’s the most confident player that she’s been in her life, and she’s an unbelievably thorough three-zone player. Every time we play her, you know she’s 1A on the scouting list and we know that we’ve got to deal with somebody who competes all the time and is very strong, very smart and very talented.”
Durocher’s star player, Marie-Philip Poulin, joined Carpenter and Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt as finalists for the Kazmaier.
“It was a great honor just to be here along with Hannah and Alex,” Poulin said. “They’re both great players, great people. Just to be here seeing all the videos of the girls, and how they talk about Patty. I think she’s just an inspiration for everyone.”
A senior, Poulin’s Hockey East battles with Carpenter are over, but the two will likely continue to compete for the same prize on the international stage, where Poulin represents Canada and Carpenter plays for the United States.
“I think Alex deserved it,” Poulin said. “She’s a great player and she brought BC to the highest level. I always have a lot of respect every time I play against her. She’s a hard worker, she knows the game, and always happy to play against BC and against the U.S.”
Brandt is still a junior, so the possibility remains that they could find themselves to be opponents at the NCAA level or sharing the Team USA bench.
“First off, she deserved it,” Brandt said. “She had an unbelievable season, and she’s taken her game to a whole other level the past couple years. It’s amazing that I get to be on her team sometimes, because she’s a great player and it’s fun to watch her.”
Brandt’s college coach doesn’t have to deal with Carpenter on a regular basis like Durocher does.
“I’ve only coached against her one time, but I think she’s just so strong on the puck and so strong on her stick,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “She has a wide base. Her speed, very similar to Hannah, her speed has gotten better over the last couple years to where she’s more dominant that way as well. She sees the ice extremely well. Great finish. Probably the best kid that I’ve seen on her backhand in a long time, the way she protects the puck and is able to pass and shoot on it.”
No coach sees her more than Boston College’s Katie King Crowley.
“I’m really proud of Alex,” Crowley said. “I thought she had a tremendous year for us. It’s amazing for her to win this award. It’s well-deserved in my opinion.”
Carpenter led the Eagles to a program-best 34 wins this season while leading the country in goals, assists, and points.
“She’s done so much for our program,” Crowley said. “Pushed our kids and pushed our team and made our program better. We’re really excited for her, really excited for BC. It’s just a great honor.”
Carpenter’s arrival at Boston College was particularly timely, as it came on the heels of the graduation of two senior leaders and U.S. Olympians.
“We were fortunate to have Molly Schaus and Kelli Stack as prior finalists for this award, who are two amazing, amazing hockey players,” Crowley said. “For Alex, it’s been great for her to follow that legacy and to be able to push it even further and to push our program even further than that.”
Senior Emily Field joined the Eagles in the same class as Carpenter.
“I’m so happy for her; she deserves it,” Field said. “She’s the epitome of what BC hockey is. She’s a great role model for everyone on and off the ice. She’s had a tremendous career at BC, and I look forward to watching her continue next year.”
Just 17 when she entered college, Carpenter was wise beyond her years.
“She always has everything together and under control,” Field said. “She was a great role model for me to go in with. I was lucky enough to be able to play with her and be able to look up to her on and off the ice, even though she was actually younger than me. She’s always had that poise with her.”
So what would the late Patty Kazmaier have thought of this year’s winner and the three finalists?
I asked Laura Halldorson, her former Princeton teammate, who said, “She would have said, ‘How come it’s not a defenseman?’ She spent her whole career trying to stop forwards. She’d be impressed with their skill. Those three players —- the hands they have and the moves they have, they’re all good at draws and scoring. It would have been a real challenge for her to shut them down.”
The award is not just about being a great hockey player.
“That’s the thing that I really like about this award, that it takes into consideration on-ice abilities and off-ice characteristics,” Halldorson said. “Certainly humility and being team-oriented and appreciating this opportunity are all important aspects of it. The committee does a really good job of funneling names through and coming out with the top people to choose. That character piece, to me, has always been an important factor in the award winner, because like Dick [Kazmaier] said on that video, he wants this to be a fraternity where it’s like, ‘Hey, we all got this thing,’ and they can be impressed with each other, because they’re all good people.”
Carpenter credits her teammates there as well.
“On the ice, you’ve helped me grow as a hockey player, but what is most important is that you’ve helped me grow as a person,” she said.
There is also an academic component to the award.
“Thank you Boston College for challenging me to be more than just a hockey player,” Carpenter said. “BC sets high expectations in the classroom and strives to shape their students to be future leaders in the community.”
Congratulations to Alex Carpenter, the 2015 recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.