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Home from the Olympic Arena

Alex Carpenter ’16, at right in above photo, joined Olympic teammates and 2011 BC grads Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus March 1 at Kelly Rink to accept congratulations and greet fans. (Photos by John Quackenbos)

By Reid Oslin | Special to the Chronicle

Published: Mar. 13, 2014

While most of her Boston College classmates were leading typical college student lives in Chestnut Hill, Alexandra “Alex” Carpenter ’16 spent her fall semester focused on winning an Olympic medal.

As a member of the Team USA women’s ice hockey squad, Carpenter and two other former Eagle puck stars, 2011 BC graduates Molly Schaus and Kelli Stack, dedicated the past six months preparing to play in the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Carpenter was one of the squad’s top guns, scoring four goals and an assist in five games as Team USA captured a silver medal in the two-week competition – narrowly missing the top prize when the US suffered a painful 3-2 overtime loss to tournament winner Canada in the gold medal game.

Carpenter, who at 19 was one of the youngest members of Team USA, has a long and illustrious hockey pedigree that helped her become such a valuable member of the American squad. A native of North Reading, Mass., and the daughter of long-time NHL star Bobby Carpenter, Alex became a local hockey legend herself with record-breaking play (427 points in 100 prep games) at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass., where she learned the fine points of the game from Coach “Babe” Ceglarski, son of BC’s celebrated former head hockey coach Len Ceglarski.

At age 14, Carpenter was selected to play on Team USA’s Under-18 squad in world competition, earning herself valuable experience in international play and launching her Olympic hockey hopes.

Carpenter chose to attend Boston College where she was recruited by former US Olympic gold medal-winner Katie King Crowley, the Eagles’ head hockey coach. In the college ranks, Carpenter continued her scoring assault on opposing goaltenders, notching 109 points in two varsity seasons and leading Hockey East in scoring with 70 points as a sophomore. After the 2012-13 season, she was selected New England “Player of the Year” and earned a host of additional national and regional honors for her outstanding efforts.

Last week, Carpenter joined Schaus and Stack for a return visit to Kelley Rink, where the trio displayed their new Olympic medallions, signed hundreds of autographs, posed for photos and celebrated their silver medal performance with appreciative Boston College fans.

During the visit, Carpenter took a few minutes out of a hectic schedule to speak about her Olympic experience with Chronicle correspondent Reid Oslin.

Alex Carpenter ’16 returned to campus from the Winter Olympics in Sochi – where she earned a silver medal as a member of the US women’s hockeyteam – just before spring break. (Photo by John Quackenbos)

What has your schedule been like since the end of last hockey season?

I was invited to the Team USA pre-Worlds camp last April and I made that team. The World Championships were in Ottawa and we won. Then, a couple of weeks later, some of us were called and invited to go to the Team USA camp at Lake Placid in June. I think there were 41 players who took part in a week-long camp. The final roster was cut down to 25 for the national team.

We had the summer on our own, and the group got together in Boston at the end of August. We trained together at rinks in Bedford and Woburn for almost six months.

We also played in the Four Nations Cup tournament in November [against teams from Canada, Sweden and Finland] and we had a lot of exhibition games against local guys’ teams at prep schools.  We also played eight or nine exhibition games against Team Canada all over the US and Canada.

What is it like to wear the “Team USA” sweater and to represent your country in international competition?

I played on my first National team when I was about 14. I have always remembered how it was pretty special it was to put on that sweater.

We did not march in the Opening Ceremonies at Sochi, as we had a game at noon the next day, so we thought as a team that it would better if we did not participate in that event.

Our first game was against Finland and going out there as Team USA was pretty cool. Putting that USA jersey on for the first time [in Olympic competition] was a great feeling.  

What was Sochi like?  

It was different because it really was so warm over there. We really enjoyed it a lot. In spite of what some people may have been hearing back here, the accommodations were great and the food was unbelievable. They had food from every country – Russian, Japanese, Italian – and you could pick and choose what you wanted. I stuck with the American food [laughter] – mostly normal sandwiches and things like that.

The accommodations were great. Russia did a great job with providing the athletes with everything that we needed.

Were you able to stay connected with Boston College?

I kept up with what was going on with the BC team and kept in touch with a lot of the players. Some of them are my greatest friends. I am still a part of Boston College, regardless if I took the year off or not.

What are your future plans – at BC and beyond?

I’ll be back here next fall. I am studying psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences with a minor in general education. After graduation I will probably stick around Boston, maybe playing for the Boston Blades team in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. I will also hopefully get myself a job and train for the next Olympics.

I definitely want to try it again and for as long as USA Hockey wants me in their system. I am going to be willing and able to go to the next Olympics in Pyeongchang [South Korea] in 2018.

A final thought on the 2014 Olympics?

We did pretty well, but obviously silver [medal] was not what we went over there to get. It was quite an honor, however. It was an unbelievable experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.