A recent rash of minor injuries on the blueline has left the Lone Star Brahmas defensive pairings in constant flux. With the Brahmas locked in a tight NAHL South Division playoff race, they needed to find some stability which opened the door for Anchorage, AK native and Merrimack College commit Alex Carle.
Carle is a 5’ 11” – 185 pound defenseman who is the youngest of three siblings who has some fairly impressive role models. Oldest brother Matt Carle was a Hobey Baker winner at the University of Denver and now skates for the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning. Middle brother David Carle signed to play with Denver as well and was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2008 NHL entry draft before being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart that can trigger cardiac arrest during strenuous activity. Denver honored their commitment to David and he spent four years there as a student assistant coach before spending a short time as an assistant with the USHL Green Bay Gamblers. David is now back with Denver as a full time assistant.
Alex suffered through some significant injury issues of his own that have kept him out of competitive games for the last 15 months. “I had multiple injuries the majority of them being lower body,” said Carle “They were pretty serious surgeries and were not easy to recover from at all.”
“It seems like just yesterday that I was lying in a hospital bed from one of my surgeries and just beginning the process of rehab. It took a lot of physical therapy, mental toughness, and patience especially because I had to wait for things to heal on their own before I could start any rehab. Once I was fully healthy and able to work out again and start skating that’s when the real work began because I had to get my conditioning back up, my skating, and of course getting a feel for the puck again,” he said. Then added; “It was not an easy road but it certainly was worth it.”
Carle and his doctors now proclaim his injuries to be behind him. “My injuries are 100% healed that’s for sure,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% of where I want to be as a hockey player again, there’s still a lot of work to be done to get where I want to be.”
With his commitment to Merrimack already signed when the injuries occurred, Carle had some initial concerns about his future. After speaking with Coach Dennehy and Coach Carr his concerns were put to rest. “They were very helpful and very supportive with everything’” recalled Carle. “They never once pressured me to do anything that I didn’t want to and basically put everything on my plate which was huge.” The support from the Merrimack staff allowed the Carle family to catch their breath and focus on Alex’s recovery.
Alex was drafted out of Kimball Union Academy by Youngstown in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft and picked up two points in six games with the Phantoms before suffering his injuries. Youngstown maintained Carle’s rights through this season. However, the Phantoms have a defensive corps full of D-I commits and Alex was going to have difficulty breaking into the rotation in his final year of Junior eligibility.
The Merrimack coaching staff stepped up to support Carle once again. “The coaching staff at Merrimack has a very good relationship with Coach Wildfong and Coach Potter,” said Carle. “I was in contact with Coach Carr at Merrimack and he brought up the idea of coming to Lone Star. he told me that they only had 5 D at the time and that I could start playing right away.” Alex was sold immediately. He was at the point where he needed to start playing games in order to get ready for college hockey and the Brahmas were in need of a talented blueliner to shore up their defense down the stretch.
Carle has worked to develop his game in the mold of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jack Johnson. “He likes to throw his weight around a bit and he loves to contribute to his team any way that he can,” he said. He went on to say, “I like to think of myself as a sound defenseman that can play in all zones of the ice no matter the situation of the game.” That should fit well with the Brahmas’ defensive focus.
While his exposure to the Lone Star organization has been brief, Carle is impressed with what he has seen so far. “The coaching staff, the rink, and the training staff are all first class.” He pointed to roommate TJ Black as well as his billet family, Darren and Jennifer Kersten, for making the transition a smooth one. “I love my set up here,” he said. “I already knew Ludvig Larsson and Sebastian Vidmar from Youngstown. I met Ludvig briefly from last season and he was at Youngstown’s camp. So knowing some familiar faces definitely helped out as well. But I’m very happy to be here.”
He has also noticed the folks seated in the NYTEX Sports Centre stands. “I can tell that these fans care about the players and follow the team exceptionally well, which is awesome to see as a player,” said Carle. “Just seeing the fans from a Monday afternoon game was pretty special. I’m extremely excited to see how packed the rink can get on a Friday or Saturday night for sure.”
Getting such a late start on his season, Carle has set fairly modest goals for the second half. “The only personal goals I have really set for myself this season are to have a good +/-, stay healthy, and contribute to the team any possible way that I can,” That being said, Alex also said fans can expect him to work hard every shift and to bring some good energy to help keep the fans in the game.
Walking into a new situation it is always comforting to see someone you know. When he arrives at Merrimack next season, Carle will once again see some familiar faces in brothers Ludvig and Alfred Larsson. “I roomed with Alfred last year in Youngstown and now having the chance to play in Lone Star with Ludvig will make the move to Merrimack easier for sure.”
Alex will major in Business and Sports Management at Merrimack and will pursue a career in one of those fields or potentially behind the bench once he graduates. “I would love to be a hockey coach. Preferably start out at the prep level somewhere in New England then work my way up to a college program,” he said. Until then, he will join his Brahmas teammates in chasing the NAHL Robertson Cup Championship.
When away from the rink he says he likes to do typical hockey player things. “I love to go to Chipotle, I like to golf quite a bit whenever I can. I do enjoy playing some tennis, and of course I love adding to my fair share of lululemon clothing,” he said adding. “Obviously love watching hockey, other than that I love watching other sports like football and baseball. I’m a big Patriots fan and a huge Red Sox fan as well.”
Let’s hope he doesn’t have much time to participate in a lot of those leisure activities until sometime in late May after the Brahmas hoist the cup.