Barely two weeks into April, it has already been a pretty good month for Alex Carpenter.
Just days after leading Boston College to the 2013 Frozen Four and being named a Second Team All-American, the sophomore forward was named the New England Division I Player of the Year by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
That same day, she made her debut at the IIHF Women's World Championship as she suited up for the U.S. national team. In Tuesday's gold-medal game at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Carpenter can earn another honor with a win over Canada.
Oh, and she turns 19 on Saturday.
With her brother, Bob "Bobo" Carpenter, also considered one of college hockey's top Boston-area recruits, fewer and fewer people are asking Alex about her dad.
"When we were growing up, it was always 'Oh, Alex and Bobo Carpenter, the son and daughter of Bobby Carpenter.' But I think now things are starting to change a little bit," Carpenter told NHL.com. "It's nice that the tables are turning a little bit. But we still acknowledge our dad and all he's done for us."
Dad happens to be Bobby Carpenter, a veteran of 18 NHL seasons and the first American to jump directly from high school hockey to the NHL. As the second-youngest player on the U.S. national team, his daughter probably couldn't have learned about pressure and expectations from anyone better. After all, her father was only 17 when he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated beside a headline touting him as "the Can't-Miss Kid."
"One of the most important things he's taught me is to keep my head on straight and to stay humble. To carry myself in a positive way," said Carpenter, who played youth hockey alongside Bobo before capturing four straight New England Division II high school championships at Governors Academy. "On the ice, he's taught me most about just working your hardest at everything you do. I guess that translates both on and off the ice. I know he got to where he did from hard work. That's one of the things that stayed with me."
The Carpenter children have certainly benefitted from the guidance and experience of their parents. But Bobby is quick to credit his children, which include youngest son Brendan, who has done his family something of a favor by deciding to play football instead of hockey.
"He doesn't want anything to do with hockey. Which is great for us. We get to enjoy a different type of sport. I just sit there as a real fan. I don't know what they're doing right or wrong," said Bobby Carpenter, who admits his kids are better equipped to handle media attention than he was as a teenager. "Some kids love the attention, some kids don't. I never learned to be exposed like that. I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't really understand it. I did the best I could.
"These kids are lucky enough that I can explain things and give them examples. Whether they listen or not is up to them, but for the most part they've followed the lead. It made it a lot easier for them."
So far, it's been hard to argue with the on-ice results for the next generation of Carpenters. As one of the youngest players in the entire tournament, Alex collected three points in four contests heading into the gold-medal game. That includes the game-winning goal in Team USA's final preliminary-round game against Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Bobo has had a standout sophomore season at Austin Prep near Boston. Last month, he helped lead the team to the final of the elite Super 8 Division 1A state tournament, a run that included a big 2-1 semifinal win over St. John's Prep, where his father starred over 20 years ago.
And with another Carpenter now considering colleges around the Boston area, Alex is trying not to put too much pressure on her younger brother to make it a family affair at BC.
"I haven't been pressuring him that much. He's been looking around. I've tried to help him with the process a little bit," she said. "I'm really happy that he's exploring all of his options."
As for dad, the prospect of having two more hockey stars in the family is definitely exciting. But he's far more excited to see what kind of adults they become.
"With Alex and her two brothers, yes, they have had success with athletics," Bobby Carpenter said. "But I think my wife and I get more compliments about the type of people they are, which is more important than anything."
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