Even though Alex Carpenter grew up about 20 miles from the EDGE Sports Center in Bedford, Mass., she still decided to move into an apartment closer to the ice rink where the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team is training in the run up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in February.
“It’s nice to be able to go home and not worry about the dog or two brothers, not worry about what’s going on,” said the 19-year-old who played for a travel team called the Wizards that also plays at the EDGE Sports Center. “It’s nice to be able to go home and sit in a nice quiet apartment.
“I thought it would be a new experience, I really wanted to get the whole affect of the experience. I thought living away from home in a whole different place would be nice; just really enjoying the moment.”
The junior forward at Boston College spent all summer living with her family in North Reading while she was training to make the 25-player roster invited to Bedford.
Now she is living with teammate Anne Pankowski as they both vie to make the team when it is cut down to the final 21 players in December.
“I think I just have to fulfill the role the coaches want me to on this team, whether that’s scoring goals, playing defense or doing the little things,” she said. “Just do what they want me to do and whatever is best for the team.
“I’m not trying to think about [the cut]. I’m just taking it one day, one week at a time. I have high hopes, but whatever the coaches need for the team I respect that and I know regardless of the outcome I gave it my all.”
Team USA coach Katey Stone said Carpenter is a playmaker who sees the ice really well.
“She’s great in tight spaces,” Stone said.
Although she hasn’t played in the Olympics, Carpenter has international experience with the senior national team. She scored a goal and added two assists in five games during Team USA’s gold-medal run at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships in Ottawa, Ont.
Carpenter credited a lot of her success at the international level to her Boston College coaches, Katie King-Crowley and Courtney Kennedy, who both played for Team USA. King-Crowley won gold in the 1998 Winter Games, silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006 while Kennedy was on the 2002 and 2006 Olympic squads.
“Being with them the last two years really helped me step up my game to understand a lot,” Carpenter said.
The coaches also helped Carpenter improve at the college level as well. Carpenter was the Hockey East scoring champion (70 points) and a top-10 Patty Kazmaier Award finalist last year. She said she’ll miss playing with her college team this year, but she also said that it helps that former BC players Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus are on the national team and that she is still close enough to attend the Eagles’ games when she can.
“It’s definitely been pretty hard having to leave my grade and leave my team for the year,” she said. “Kelli and Molly both did the same thing [while at BC]. It’s just part of what we’re doing. You have to accept it for what it is. I’m grateful I have two more years [at BC].
Ultimately Carpenter — who set a Hockey East record with a 24-game point streak last year and set Boston College single-season records for points (70), assists (38) and plus/minus rating (plus-46) — understands that she’s playing for a greater cause.
“It would be unbelievable,” she said of playing in her first Olympics. “It would be a dream come true. It would be something a lot of us have been working for all our lives so it would be so fulfilling to be able to do that.”
And bringing home a medal from Russia this February would certainly give her some bragging rights when she does go back to her North Reading home to play against her 17-year-old brother Robert.
“We always go out back to the ice rink in our backyard and shoot pucks and play one-on-one,” she said. “We’re both really competitive. That sometimes turns into a bloodbath.”
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Team USA takes on Canada to kick off the Bring on the World Tour on Saturday in Burlington, Vt.