For Quinnipiac, the celebration of its seniors started before the puck dropped...
Al Carbone came to Quinnipiac in 1968. He still hasn’t left.
Forty-six years after stepping foot on campus as an undergraduate, Carbone now serves as associate dean of admissions, and though his career is through admissions, his passion has always been Quinnipiac ice hockey.
He has been here longer than President John Lahey, men’s ice hockey coach Rand Pecknold and Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald, yet still remains one of the most enthusiastic people involved with the program. Carbone helps every new player and their family transition to Quinnipiac and serves as a face to the university for the families.
At the beginning of each new year, he sends every player’s family a letter introducing himself and highlighting the season ahead. With each new player that steps foot on campus, Carbone is one of the first to meet them.
This begins a friendship, one that former defenseman and current assistant coach Reid Cashman says lasts forever.
“When [a player] gets married, they invite Al,” Cashman said. “He was invited to my wedding. That’s probably the biggest testament.”
Cashman has seen Carbone’s value to the program from both a player and coach’s perspective, but it matters not if someone is from the staff or the team. It is who they are as a person that counts.
“We all love him because he could care less about how good of hockey players we are. He just cares what kind of guys we are and everything he can do to support us as players and a program,” Cashman said. “His support is unwavering. Highs and lows, he’s always there.”
Carbone’s enthusiasm for life becomes clear after even the shortest amount of time – the glow on his face, the huge smile he takes everywhere with him. If he has never met you, he will fire away with questions to get to know you, your family and your interests, as well as give you a glance at his sense of humor.
Among the many pieces of Quinnipiac hockey memorabilia in his office, more personal trinkets line the wall – countless Christmas cards of old players and their families, pictures with many former players, and Carbone at the team’s banquet, which he coordinates.
He is a living history book of Quinnipiac, as well as Bobcat hockey, and can talk about any past player and the details that made them human, not just names on an archived roster.
Like how 1998 grad Eric Slack’s mom would come on the bus and give everyone cookies on the road. Or even how Pecknold’s son scored a goal at High Point Solutions Arena when his youth hockey team played there earlier this year.
“We all love him because he could care less about how good of hockey players we are. He just cares what kind of guys we are and everything he can do to support us as players and a program.” – Reid Cashman
Carbone travels with the team as much as he can, bringing his enthusiasm and love for every player along on the road.
“He’s fun to have around,” junior Matthew Peca said. “He keeps things loose. When he’s around us, he’s just one of the guys.”
“He cares about everyone,” Connor Jones said. “You see him around campus and he always has a smile on his face. He’s another reason why Quinnipiac is so great.”
With the team’s recent success on a national scale, Carbone has seen the program come full circle. From changing conferences, building the TD Bank Sports Center, bringing in NHL prospects and making the Frozen Four, it’s success that he thinks won’t fade away any time soon.
“Showing up in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four was euphoric,” Carbone said. “Hopefully, we’ll be there again.”
The stories are never-ending and show Carbone’s love for every single person who comes through the program.
“It’s so difficult to see them go,” Carbone said.
No matter the impact of a player on the ice, Carbone remembers each and every one that dons Bobcat blue and gold for who they are.
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Former teammates behind opposing benches at the Frozen Four