Raeley Carney

Raeley Carney, a Wasilla High senior and member of the Warriors hockey team, signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Division I Bemidji State women’s hockey team

WASILLA — Raeley Carney was born to be a hockey player.

A member of a family dedicated to the sport, Carney was on skates by the age of 3. She grew up in the local rinks, and as she got older, Carney focused on a lofty goal.

And now, what once was a dream is now a reality.

Carney, a Wasilla High senior and member of the Warriors hockey team, signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Division I Bemidji State women’s hockey team as she was surrounded by friends and family during a ceremony Nov. 10 at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.

“I’m excited,” Carney said after posing for pictures with family and friends. “I’ve been working really hard. I’m happy this is the outcome of it.”

Carney said playing at the next level has been the target for a long time, and the idea became more realistic as she hit high school.

“I always thought I could do it,” Carney said. “I was pretty much shooting for Division I. That was my ultimate goal.”

Carney, a center throughout her career, said there were other potential programs she considered, but Bemidji State really stood out.

“There were a couple of other schools, but they were kind of my target ,” Carney said. “They have awesome coaches. They have a good team.”

Carney will join former South Anchorage star goalie Hannah Hogenson on the roster. She said she doesn’t know Hogenson personally, but it will be nice to have a fellow Alaskan on the team. The Bemidji, Minnesota, program competes in the Western States Hockey League.

Carney has spent her entire youth and prep careers skating for local teams. She has been a part of Mat-Su Eagles and Valley Thunder programs, and now is a senior with the Warriors.

Wasilla High head coach Jake Dargis said Carney has the combination of the intangibles and the skill set.

“Intangibles are what really sets her apart, but she is obviously a tremendously skilled player,” Dargis said. “She is a great skater, a really powerful skater. She’s learned so much through the years. She has a great hockey sense that allows her to put herself in good positions.”

Carney now joins an elite group of Mat-Su Valley girls hockey players who have had the opportunity to skate at the Division I level. The group includes former Wasilla High standout Jordan Elkins, who played at Quinnipiac. Elkins was among several of Carney’s former youth coaches who were part of the ceremony Wednesday. The list also includes former Palmer blueliners Katy Applin (Northeastern), Brie Baskin (Boston College) and Kerry Weiland (Wisconsin). Weiland earned an Olympic silver medal with team USA. Wasilla native Mikayla Lantto, who did not play high school hockey in the Mat-Su, is a junior at Penn State.

“I think she’s going to do well in Division I,” Dargis said. “I don’t think she’s going to have any trouble. It’s tough in the Division I level to break in, but I think she’s going to have a lot of success.”

Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at editor@frontiersman.com.

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