MATTY ICE: Diman hockey’s student-coach has made quite an impact
Diman hockey student-coach Matty Carpenter with his team during a practice session at Driscoll Arena [Herald News Photo | Dave Souza]
FALL RIVER — As the Diman Bengals hockey team heads out on the ice, a familiar face is there to greet them with a fist bump and words of encouragement. Dressed in his black and orange coach’s jacket and brimming with Bengal pride, Diman junior Matt Carpenter, or as those who know him call him, “Matty Ice,” has gone from cheering on the team from the stands of the Driscoll Arena to standing on the bench as a member of the coaching staff.
A lifelong hockey fan, Carpenter couldn’t be happier about his role.
″(I love the) physicality of the game,” said Carpenter, whose team will host St. John Paul II in the state tournament Monday at 7:30 p.m.. “I just love watching hockey and supporting Diman hockey.”
“He just tries to get the kids motivated (in the locker room), so it’s great to have him involved,” Diman coach Lenny Dutra said. “He’s here at practices, he’s always got his advice and he’s unbelievable with the numbers, so he’s got all of the stats for everyone and the opposing teams when we’re playing them on the bus rides. ... He’s got himself a future in coaching I’m sure somewhere. For right now it’s here with us so we’re happy to have him.”
A fixture at the Driscoll Arena since his freshman year, Carpenter quickly came to the attention of the team as he loudly cheered the Bengals, banging on the glass and fist bumping the players on their way to the ice at the start of each period, making quite the impression on Dutra and his players.
The team began having shirts made up for their new found super fan, and before the start of this season, Carpenter was made an official part of the team when Dutra offered him a role as student coach.
“During the middle of school, Coach Dutra just came to my class and asked me if I wanted to help out and I said sure,” Carpenter said.
Dutra called it a pleasure to have Carpenter on his staff.
“It’s fortunate we have an opportunity to work with him because he’s definitely a great kid and he’s close to the team and he’s close to our hearts for sure,” Dutra said.
For Dutra, Carpenter’s contributions both to team morale and statistics have been crucial to the team’s success on the ice this season, as the Bengals finished the regular season with a 12-9 overall record and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in four years.
“He’s always getting them amped up in the locker room,” Dutra said. “He’s always out here fist bumping them before they get out on the ice, stacking up the pucks for the boys, so he’s just been an inspiration to the team and it’s just good, positive vibes all around.”
Among the players, the feeling is mutual.
“I think that having him on this team really gives us some inspiration,” senior forward Devon Ferreira said.” He’s a great kid, he supports us no matter what. He’s always does great things for the team, coming out to practices, really helping us out with pucks, so I think it’s really been great.”
“He keeps us going, gives us a lot of energy during games and he’s just a great coach to have,” junior goalie Zack Medeiros said.
“It’s basically like he’s just one of the boys playing out on the ice and it’s awesome to have someone like that out here with us,” senior forward Gage Minior said.
The camaraderie among the team is one of Carpenter’s favorite things about being a part of it.
“No matter what happens in the game, they always support their fans and go thank their goalie,” Carpenter said. “Great group of kids.”
His favorite memory so far? Easy, Carpenter said: When they qualified for the state tournament with a 6-2 win over Durfee on Feb. 6.
“That was a great game to clinch it on in front of our home fans,” Carpenter said. “It wasn’t even a home game, it was away, Durfee was home, but it was great to clinch it against one of our friends right down the street from Diman.”
With the tournament now coming up, Carpenter is confident in how the Bengals have been playing and thinks potential opponents should take note.
“They should expect a lot of physicality,” Carpenter said. “It’s definitely going to get chippy when we’re getting down close to the championship... The seniors and the freshmen that started this year definitely got us on a good momentum roll towards the tourney.”
For now, there’s only one goal the Bengals are focused on.
“Hopefully we bring the tournament back home to Fall River,” Carpenter said.