Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa were an unstoppable duo for Boston College before the 2016-17 NWHL season. The New York Riveters selected them first and fifth overall in the 2015 NWHL Draft. But New York traded both of the forwards in the offseason. Carpenter went to the Boston Pride and Skarupa went to the Connecticut Whale.
No one was surprised when Carpenter was the first player selected in the 2015 NWHL Draft. Her 81 points in the 2014-15 season helped earn her the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. She followed that performance with a nation-leading 88 points in her senior year. Carpenter also led the NCAA in assists, power play assists, power play points and faceoffs last year. When she has the puck she is almost unstoppable.
The Whale had good reason to hope that Skarupa would help replace the offense lost with Shiann Darkangelo’s departure. Before turning pro with the Whale Skarupa finished third in the nation in scoring in both her junior and senior seasons at Boston College. She played her sophomore season without Carpenter (who competed in Sochi) but still scored 25 goals and 16 assists in 33 games. That season, where she averaged 1.24 points-per-game, was her least productive in college hockey.
Both Carpenter and Skarupa are favorites to make the United States Women’s National Team for the 2018 Olympics. So, it is safe to say that big thing are expected from them in their NWHL rookie seasons. Neither Carpenter or Skarupa disappointed in their NWHL debuts.
Without Hilary Knight in the lineup last weekend the Pride needed Carpenter to step up. In her first NWHL game, Carpenter used her speed and quick hands to score her first goal as a pro against Brianne McLaughlin. Five minutes later she earned a primary assist after setting up Jillian Dempsey. The Pride won the game with the two goals that Carpenter’s skill created in the first half of the second period.
Less than 24 hours later Carpenter scored her second NWHL goal three and a half minutes into her first game against the team that drafted her. So, in her first two games, Carpenter scored two even strength goals, picked up a primary assist (also at evens), and registered six shots. Not a bad start to her rookie season.
Skarupa had an even more memorable debut than her former Eagle linemate. She made history on Sunday night when she became the first player to score a hat trick in her first NWHL game. Skarupa put on a show on Sunday night in the Whale’s 5-4 loss to the Buffalo Beauts. She scored a goal on her first shift and shot of the game. Skarupa added a primary assist and two more goals in the second period.
It is a date that both players almost certainly have circled on their calendars.