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Could Boston College's Alex Carpenter Be A Future Patty Kaz Award Winner?

The Patty Kazmaier award, the women's hockey equivalent of the Hobey Baker, has never been won by an Eagle. Could Alex Carpenter be the first to bring the award to the Heights?

via Todd Huxley Smith

It wasn't too long ago where if the Boston College women's hockey program was able to lay claim to the Beanpot, it was a successful season.

Since the program first made its way into the NCAA hockey tournament in 2007 the growth of the program has been steady and impressive. A Hockey East title and back-to-back Frozen Fours later, BC has become one of the top programs in the nation, and with that has come some top talent.

Despite the team's recent successes, the sport's top individual crown has eluded the Eagles. Kelli Stack, one of the current stars of Team USA, reached the Kaz Final 3 in her senior season of 2010-2011, but was bested by Wisconsin Badger Meghan Duggan and Mercyhurst Laker Meghan Agosta. Other than Stack, the Eagles haven't had anyone with a shot of taking home that particular hardware.

BC center Alex Carpenter could be the Eagles' best chance yet of eventually taking home the award.

Carpenter is currently 5th in the nation in scoring and stands a reasonable chance of making it into this year's Kaz Final 3, despite Minnesota's Trifecta O' Ridiculousness in forward Amanda Kessel (with an astonishing 3.00 PPG [!!]), defenseman Megan Bozek (11th in the nation in scoring [as a defenseman {!!}]) and goaltender Noora Räty (with a perfect 23-0-0 record [!!]) having the award's eventual recipient pretty much on lock.

But what about next season? The winter Olympics bring havoc to the sport because the top players for USA and Canada, the two nations at the pinnacle of international women's hockey, nearly all play for NCAA programs. During Olympic years, the best players in NCAA hockey take the entire season off to train with their national program. BC's Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus missed the entire 2010 season to prepare for Vancouver, took a redshirt, and returned for 2010-2011.

Despite some Team USA experience as a member of the American U18 squad in 2010, 2011, and 2012, Carpenter could be on the outside looking in for the Olympics, as the American roster doesn't seem to have very many openings from year to year.

So if Carpenter gets snubbed for Team USA and plays with the Eagles in the 2013-2014 season, there are several things that could play right into her hands to make for a very convincing run to a possible Patty Kaz.

Minnesota should come back to earth -- The Golden Gophers are currently sitting on a decent 26-0-0 record and show absolutely no signs of slowing down. They have won every single one of their games by multiple goals and are probably the best women's hockey team ever assembled.

None of their primary Kaz candidates will be around next year. Amanda Kessel, the probable winner this season with far and away the most points in the nation, will be playing for Team USA in Sochi. Freshman teammate Hannah Brandt (freshman!), currently second in scoring, will also be playing for the Americans.

Senior defenseman Megan Bozek and senior goaltender Noora Räty will both have graduated. You have to go all the way down to 33rd in the national scoring rankings to find Minnesota's next highest point getter in freshman Maryanne Menefee, who doesn't figure to be much of a Kaz threat and will probably lose, um, A TON of her points next year without Brandt and Kessel on her line.

The other usual suspects will either have (finally) graduated or will be playing in Sochi -- Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux of North Dakota will finally be graduating after what seemed like 30 years of them playing college hockey. Northeastern's Kendall Coyne will be on Team USA. Cornell junior Brianne Jenner will be on Team Canada. You get the picture.

The only player above Carpenter on the current NCAA scoring list is Meryhurst junior Christine Bestland, who plays in a far weaker conference against far weaker competition, and at least at the outset doesn't seem to much of a threat.

Should BC not have any Olympians, the Eagles have a chance to roll as the #1 team in the nation next year -- Carpenter not only has a chance to lead the nation in scoring next year, but she also could play on the best team. With all the top talent taking the year off, and the Eagles potentially losing none to the Olympics and very few to graduation, BC is poised to make a serious run for the NCAA title next year. As the leader of what could be the best team in the land, that could certainly make a difference.

Still plenty of "Ifs," not to mention a season to finish before the 2013-2014 season is even remotely on the mind of BC coach Katie King Crowley. But if Carpenter is indeed snubbed for Team USA and isn't invited to Sochi, it could be an exciting year for both the Eagles and our top line center.