When August 2021 showed up on the calendars at the Wisely home, 2001-born Carter Wisely was expecting to go back to the Islanders Hockey Club Premier squad to be a defensive leader for one of the Premier Division’s regular title contenders.
Now, however, he is packing his bags to become a college student - and a college hockey player as well. Wisely committed late in August to Elmira College, a late development that was extremely exciting for Wisely and his family.
“It’s a last second thing, going in this year, right before their season starts,” said Wisely, a native of Syracuse, N.Y. “I’m happy with everything they have done for me, and what they’re going to do.”
Elmira first reached out to Wisely in early August, as they suddenly had one roster spot they had to fill.
“I had another year of eligibility with juniors. I went on a visit and loved it there, though,” said Wisely. “I love that Elmira is a hockey town, and I really found what I wanted to find in a school, academically - small school, small class sizes, which makes it easier to learn. I am super excited about the hockey program and they’re moving to a new conference. The coaching staff is super-trustworthy and super-invested in me as a hockey player and as a human being. They are going to be developing me as a four-year player, not just leaving me on my own.”
Elmira’s Soaring Eagles are taking flight to the New England Hockey Conference starting this season, and will face the likes of Norwich, Babson, Hobart and UMass-Boston now on a regular basis.
“The NEHC is an unbelievable conference with great teams. It’s a little further away [from many opponents], but we’ll make great memories on our bus trips,” he added.
Wisely knows a lot about programs that invest heavily in their players, as he just came off a huge year with the Islanders Hockey Club, one that saw the team make a convincing push in the National Championships. Only a tiebreaker kept them out of the semifinals.
“I couldn’t have made a better choice. I loved playing under coach Jay Punsky,” said Wisely. “He’ll do anything for his players. He works with you on a daily basis, every single day. We get after it with the Islanders Hockey Club, you work so hard in practice. It doesn’t matter where we are in the standings, we’re always pushing to get so much better.”
Wisely played in 24 games in the regular season and three more in the playoffs. He posted a pair of goals and six assists for eight points, and also emerged as one of the team’s most accurate passers. He executed 288 tape-to-tape passes for an 87 percent success rate, fifth best on the IHC team among players with at least 100 passes.
“Defensively, we had a really strong D corps from top to bottom, we were super deep and we all loved each other as a team,” said Wisely. “We were all rooting for each other to play well, and also fighting each other to get into the lineup.
“Nationals was a cool experience,” he added. “It was a little disappointing with a tie in the final game, because we thought we were the best team there. But I wouldn’t trade any of that time, it was a great experience for everyone.”
All of a sudden, this month, Wisely has found himself scrambling to change plans - he was physically and mentally prepared to be an age-out leader for the Islanders this season, but now he finds himself suddenly an incoming NCAA hockey player.
“[My preparation] has changed a lot, I’m in a little bit of a rush,” he said. “Now I’m the underaged kid instead of the age-out in juniors. I’ll be up against bigger, stronger players and I have to catch up and mature to get on everyone else’s level in college.”
The USPHL congratulates Carter Wisely, his family, the Islanders Hockey Club and Elmira College for his commitment.