In an effort to capture an elusive gold medal in Winter Games play, USA Hockey declared that the future is now in naming 19 year-old hockey prodigy Alex Carpenter to its roster for Sochi 2014. As the US has not captured a gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games since Nagano 1998, it is a streak of futility that does not want to continue into the 2018 games at Pyeongchang.
Carpenter first came to the attention of many hockey fans in the summer of 2011, when she suited up for the US Under-18 team in Rockland, Ontario (east of Ottawa). At the time, fans could not have anticipated that two years later, she would make her presence felt once again in Canada’s capital region. Having earned a spot on the US Senior Team, she would be part of the gold medal winning roster at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Considering that Canada had never lost a gold medal game on home ice during the history of the IIHF Women’s Worlds, Carpenter had the opportunity to be part of history.
Should she contribute to another gold medal effort at Sochi 2014, it will signify another brush with history as Carpenter shall be part of the first US women’s hockey team in this century to claim gold. While the eternal rivalry with Canada is so intense that it is impossible to predict the outcome, there are two factors that enrich the experience for Carpenter.
Having established herself as a superstar with the Boston College Eagles at the NCAA level, she is joined by Eagles alumnae Molly Schaus and Kelli Stack on the US team. Of note, all three have been coached by Katie King-Crowley, a member of the US team that claimed gold at Nagano 1998. Considering Stack rewrote many of the Eagles scoring records upon graduating in 2011, Carpenter proudly follows in her legacy. The chance to see the two of them play together is a unique passing of the torch for proud Eagles fans.
Secondly, Carpenter’s tenure with USA Hockey is an extension of her father’s outstanding career. A member of Team USA for various international events, including the Canada Cup, Bobby Carpenter helped change the norm about the American contribution to pro hockey. Having appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a teenager, Bobby Carpenter would also win the Stanley Cup as a member of the New Jersey Devils in 1995.
For Alex, the January 1, 2014 announcement to the US Winter games team was made even more special as it occurred on NHL ice, where her father also made history as the first American-born player to score 50 goals in an NHL season. During the second intermission of the NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium (which set a world record for attendance), Carpenter and her US teammates were introduced to the fans.
As the only second-generation star on the US team, Carpenter is ready to bring her athletic gifts to an even larger stage. While there will likely be many more Winter Games opportunities for the prodigious Carpenter, the opportunity to start with a gold medal is one that may help define the beginning of a new era in USA Hockey.
Image obtained from Twitter, L-R: Eagles alumnae Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus (center) join 19 year-old Carpenter on Team USA.