Carpenter steps up for CHaD
MANCHESTER — If anyone watching Chris Carpenter skate, pass and shoot the puck Monday at the SNHU Arena thought he was in his element, they were right.
“Hockey has really been my first love,” said Carpenter. “Since the time I was a kid, I loved skating and playing. Still do. I also love watching it, too.”
Carpenter will serve as a celebrity coach for Team Fire against Team Police in the 10th annual CHaD Battle of the Badges Hockey Championship set for Sunday at 3 p.m. at SNHU Arena. The New Hampshire Union Leader is a sponsor of the charity game helping to raise money for the kids and programs at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.
“It’s an honor and joy for me to be part of this,” said Carpenter, a 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, who skated in a 90-minute practice session with Team Fire. “Fire, Police, all these guys out here are heroes. They allow us to go out and enjoy our freedom, be safe on our streets. They should be praised for what they’re doing. Not only on their job, but taking their free time to raise money for a great cause.”
Carpenter was a three-time All-State hockey and baseball player for Trinity (1990-93). He was a defenseman who used his strength and power to lead the Pioneers to two straight Division I championship games (runner-ups in 1990-91). He was a pitcher/first baseman who also led Trinity to the Division I final twice. His team lost to Nashua 2-1 in 1991, but beat the Purple Panthers 7-3 for the 1992 crown.
“I loved hockey, but I was always better in baseball,” said Carpenter. “In both sports we were always competitive and I made a lot of good friendships and relationships. It was fun and there were a lot of good times.”
Carpenter keeps a pulse on today’s youth sports programs in New Hampshire, especially at a time when he’s involved in activities surrounding his children. He was saddened to hear the Manchester Babe Ruth League won’t be chartering a team this summer for the first time in 65 years because of a lack of players.
“It’s the way it’s going now,” he said. “I’ve been out of that level for a long time, but as you see now, kids are entering programs like AAU. It’s sad to see it go.”
Carpenter believes kids should be playing multiple sports. “They shouldn’t focus on one until they get to an age where they really have to. I think it (playing multiple sports) develops kids physically and emotionally at all levels.”
Turning to the topic of the Red Sox, Carpenter said the addition of five-time All-Star Chris Sale makes the “team much better. You look at his numbers (74-50 record, led the American League in strikeouts in 2015) and they’re impressive. He goes out and competes every fifth day and wins. That’s the bottom line.”
Carpenter was open to the idea of returning to the game as a coach. “Eventually, some point in time,” he said. “Right now, my focus is on my children. We just had tryouts for the Granite State Games for baseball and Greg Larocca reached out to me about coaching the Southern team. That will be my first step in it (coaching) and I’ll see how it goes and how much I enjoy it.”