Scottsdale’s Turner dominates JWHL, now off to NCAA
Carlee Turner says nothing makes her happier than being on the ice playing the game she loves.
And the game has loved her back as the Scottsdale native was recently presented the Elizabeth “Liz” Turgeon Player of the Year award in the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL) as a senior with the North American Hockey Academy (NAHA), located in Stowe, Vt.
Turner posted 21 goals and 48 points this past season in JWHL play and 38 goals with 40 assists for 78 points in 69 games overall.
“It really was a huge honor to win this award, something I’ll never forget,” Turner said. “The JWHL is a very competitive league filled with great players from all over North America, and the previous winners of this award are all girls I’ve always looked up to. So simply put, I was blown away and extremely honored to be considered amongst these top group of girls.”
Turgeon, the daughter of former NHL standout Pierre Turgeon, played youth hockey in Colorado and tragically died at the age of 18 following a car accident.
“During my time in the JWHL, I heard many stories about Liz – who she was as a person, teammate, and friend – someone I aspire to be,” said Turner. “Her story is very sad, but I do know that the impact she made on her teammates, friends, coaches, and the JWHL is indescribable.”
Growing up, Turner played on boys teams with the Desert Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) before heading east to play at NAHA.
“My brother, Keenan, is four years older than me, so I basically grew up at the rink as he played hockey as a kid,” remembered Turner. “Once I could talk, I made it clear that I wanted hockey skates and a hockey stick and I never looked back. Nothing made me as happy as when I was on the ice and cool enough, that feeling hasn’t changed.
“Despite what people think, there is a ton of hockey knowledge here in Arizona and I had the ability to be helped by so many great coaches over the years. In fact, I still spend my summers training at DY, and couldn’t be more grateful for the amount of support I’ve been given. Didn’t matter if it was someone like my dad (Kevin) who has coached me for 10 years, or a coach who has skated me only once, everyone’s support has impacted me and my game so much.”
The NAHA has also pushed and developed Turner’s game.
“This program really gave me every possible opportunity to become a better player,” Turner said. “We practice and train every day and on weekends, travel to competitive tournaments and league games in New England and across Canada, so I would not be the player I am today if NAHA wasn’t a part of my life.”
This fall, Turner will start her NCAA Division I career at the University of New Hampshire (Hockey East). She visited 13 schools before deciding on the Wildcats.
“I’m very excited to spend my next four years at UNH,” Turner said. “I hope while I’m there, I can be a leader in helping UNH return to a national championship position and with the excellent coaching staff, I’d love to have the opportunity to make a USA Hockey Women’s National Team.”
Academically, Turner’s plan is to take a pre-med route.
“There’s been a good amount of men and women players who have moved on to college hockey before me and as I watched them, they proved to people that even though they live in Arizona, they could still live out their hockey dreams,” said Turner. “I followed players like Kaliya Johnson to NAHA, and I know there are other young Arizona girls planning to follow that path, which is really exciting.
“These former players helped pave the way for me, and now it’s pretty cool to think that I could help pave the way for others.”
— Matt Mackinder