An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
MINNEAPOLIS – The past 12 hours have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Alex Carpenter.
First the top-rated Boston College Eagles felt the bitter sting of defeat at the hands of their crosstown rivals from Harvard University in the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.
And as a new day dawned on the Twin Cities, here stood Carpenter with her teammates crowded around her on the stage at the McNamara Alumni Center after accepting the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in women’s college hockey.
As a team player in the ultimate team game, it was a bittersweet feeling that left the 20-year-old junior feeling a little self-conscious with all the attention focused her way.
“It’s definitely tough,” Carpenter said after breaking away from a team photo with the award. “It’s obviously not the outcome we wanted but I’m definitely excited to represent Boston College like this, and also my teammates. In my opinion this is definitely a team award.”
Seated close to the stage were her parents, Bob and Julie Carpenter. As a long-time NHL star, the proud father agreed with his daughter’s team-first approach.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said dad, who played 19 NHL seasons after being hailed as the ‘Can’t Miss Kid’ by Sports Illustrated in 1981.
“Hockey is a team game and individual accolades are secondary. If you ask any player in the NHL, they would trade a scoring title or an individual award for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”
Still, he couldn’t have been more proud of how hard his daughter worked to become the player that led the nation in points (78), goals (35), assists (43) and points per game (2.23). It’s all part of her evolution after taking a year off from school to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“She’s always had the dream of competing in the Olympics, winning an NCAA title and winning the Patty Kazmaier Award,” he said. “Four years ago after being cut from a U.S. Team Alex really took stock of her life and changed the way she approached the game, the way she approached her life, including her eating habits. I’m very proud of how far she has come.”
Her teammates and coaches have enjoyed a front-row seat to the transformation from potential phenom to established star thanks to her constant quest to improve herself on and off the ice.
“It’s just an absolute privilege to be able to work with this kid every day,” said Courtney Kennedy, the associate head coach of the Eagles.
“I’ve actually never seen someone with such a high work ethic, and that’s what’s fascinating about her. People are like, ‘she’s good, she’s good.’ But she really works at it. This kid is out on the ice early and stays late. She’s the epitome of an elite athlete and I’m very fortunate to be able to skate with this kid for four years. She’s phenomenal.”
That admiration is definitely mutual. In addition to thanking her teammates, Carpenter made sure to thank her family members, many of whom made the trip to Minneapolis.
“There are so many people that I have to thank but I want to start with my family. Mom, you’ve been my biggest fan since I was little and have been with me every step of the way,” she said.
“Dad, what I’ve learned from you about hockey is phenomenal. But what I’ve learned from you as a person is even better. Whenever I’m asked who my favorite hockey player is, you’ll always be the answer.”
As the crowd began to thin out and the final family photos with the Kazmaier Trophy were snapped, Carpenter was already shifting gears to her senior season at Boston College. Spending most of the regular season atop the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today Women’s College Hockey Poll means little after Friday night’s disappointing defeat. It was time to put the ups and downs of 2014-15 behind her and move on.
But first she has some unfinished business to take care of on international ice as she joins her teammates in preparation for the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
“I’m definitely excited to be coming back for another year. I love it at BC and I’m excited to be getting back to work, back to the drawing board,” she said. “At the same time there’s going to be more motivation obviously. We’re going to build from this season and keep moving forward.”