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The Carpenters

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  Bobby Carpenter playing for St. John’s Prep and defeated the Sachems in the semifinals of the state high school tourney in 1979. The Saugus team included Scotty Brazis, Paul Nigro and my son, Mike Stewart. When Bobby finished at St. John’s, he went on to an illustrious career in the NHL, as anyone in the area knows.

  He also founded a couple of professional hockey players, and his daughter Alex also played in the Olympics. Bobby never told his children to play hockey, but he did build a rink in their backyard and a shooting area with a bucket of pucks. In her early years, Alex was usually the only girl on the ice, and she had a tough time responding to attention of spectators. Her father told her, “You have to be able to deal with compliments and learn to be successful. You can say, ‘Thank you very much’ and really appreciate it, and then you can go out outside the rink and yell your head off.”

  The father played for 21 seasons in the NHL for the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils and internationally in the World Cup. His oldest son – known as Bobo – played for Governor’s Academy and Austin Prep for high school in Massachusetts. After some amateur hockey, he went to Boston University (my alma mater), then three seasons in the AHL and two seasons in the ECHL. The Carpenters’ youngest son, Brendan, chose football instead.

  But the subject of this article is his daughter, Alex, from North Reading. Alex was the first girl to play in the Morristown, New Jersey, Little League – as a pitcher, catcher and shortstop as a 10-year-old. She started playing hockey in a middle school boys’ team in Bethlehem, New York, while her father played for the Rangers. She played her high school years at Governor’s Academy starting at 13 years old. During her three years at the Academy, she scored 155 goals and had 136 assists for a total of 291 points, or nearly 100 per year.

  She went from the private high school to Boston College (BC), where she played 150 games, scored 133 goals and had 145 assists, for 278 points, again nearly 100 per year. In her junior season, she was awarded the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top female ice hockey player in the United States.

  She went on to play for USA Hockey, competing for Team USA under-18 against Canada, and was a player on the team that won the Czech Challenge Cup in Prague in 2009. In 2010 she played for the USA in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Women’s Under 18 Championship as a 15-year-old and was the second in team scoring with eight goals and one assist. She was on the senior team IIHF in 2013. She was on the Olympic team in 2014, and in the 2016 Women’s World Championship she scored the winning goal in overtime to beat Canada for the championship. She played for the USA five times in the IIHF World Championship, receiving five gold medals. She played for the USA in the 2022 Olympics.

  She almost moved to professional hockey as the first player drafted in the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015 by the New York Riveters, but instead returned to BC, and her rights were traded to the Boston Pride. She was the professional league’s second-highest scorer in the 2017-2018 season. She was drafted by the Chinese expansion team, Kunlun Red Star WIH based in Shenzhen, China. Her father was a coach for Red Star during the 2017-2018 season. The team played in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

  Playing for USA Hockey, she played 47 games, scored 29 goals and had 21 assists. As a professional she played 58 games, scored 31 goals and had 41 assists.

  As a fan of college hockey, I was always impressed by Alex Carpenter, who had an exceptional ability to play the game.

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