Years ago, Caroline Harvey could be found in her stroller going to her older brother, Nolan’s, hockey practices. Her dad made sure to wheel the stroller around so that Harvey had a view of the ice. By 3 years old, she was in skating lessons before starting with hockey the next year.
“I just remember saying ‘I want to play,’” Harvey said. “I kept pushing for it.”
It was that self-drive and love of the game which has already pushed Harvey into a successful hockey career. This spring, she won the NCAA national championship with the University of Wisconsin as a freshman and then gold at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Those titles helped Harvey win this year’s Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year Award.
This award recognizes the accomplishments of one outstanding American-born women’s hockey player. The late Bob Allen, whom the award is named after, was a major supporter of women’s hockey throughout his career.
Past winners include fellow Wisconsin Badgers Hilary Knight (2014, 2022), Abby Roque (2020), Brianna Decker (2015) and Meghan Duggan (2011).
Duggan was Harvey’s role model growing up.
Harvey said she “was just in shock” when she received the phone call that she was this year’s recipient of the Bob Allen award.
“I honestly wasn’t sure she had the right person,” Harvey said. “Being compared to ones who have come before me, like Decker, Knight, Aerin Frankel. I have no words. I mean, those are some remarkable players.”
Harvey, a 2022 Olympic silver medalist, scored 13 goals and 39 points in 42 games during her freshman campaign with Wisconsin (29-10-3). Those numbers helped Harvey become the second Wisconsin freshman to earn All-America honors. She was one of four current Badgers to help lead Team USA to gold at the World Championship too, leading the tournament in points (14 in seven games with four goals and 10 assists).
Harvey is one of three defensemen to win the Bob Allen award, with Angela Ruggiero winning in 2003 and 2004, and Caitlin Cahow in 2008. Harvey remembers how good Ruggerio, a four-time Olympic medalist, was on the ice.
“I remember she wrote me a good-luck thing before the Olympics, which was pretty special to me,” Harvey said. “I still have the little box she wrote me a note in.
“It’s pretty cool to learn that and to be compared to her.”
Dynamic is a good word to describe Harvey’s game, she said. She enjoys getting up in the rush to be involved and contribute offensively. She always looks for the right pass but takes a shot on net if there’s a clear lane.
“I always want to be a fourth attacker,” Harvey said.
Harvey and her Wisconsin teammates were the underdogs headed down the stretch of the 2022-23 season, unseeded headed into the Frozen Four. The Badgers found themselves in a back-and-forth border battle with the University of Minnesota in the national semifinals. Harvey remembers the nerves up and down the bench and in the locker room throughout that game and into the overtime period. But her mind was also positive.
“The whole time, I was fully confident our group was going to win,” Harvey said. “I mean, I just felt like it was our game.”
With the minutes ticking down in overtime, Harvey and her teammates were tired yet trying to give it all they had left in their tanks. As play developed in the offensive zone, Jesse Compher made a heads-up play with the puck along the wall and passed it toward the middle to a waiting Harvey. She didn’t miss her shot with 3:13 remaining in overtime.
“I just picked my corner,” Harvey said. “It was so exciting. I was just glad our team got to move on and got to go to that final game.”
The Badgers followed up that 3-2 OT win with a solid defensive effort and a 1-0 upset victory over top-seeded Ohio State to win a record seventh national championship for Wisconsin women’s hockey.
The moment was “electric,” but “everyone was just kind of in shock still, too,” Harvey said.
Harvey said that OT winner ranks at No. 1 in terms of goals she has scored. Another moment that’s in the same conversation is a goal from Team USA’s 6-3 gold-medal victory over Canada at worlds. Harvey tied the game 3-3 early in the third period, although she gives credit to her teammate Alex Carpenter for tipping the shot. Regardless of whether Harvey’s official goal was an assist in her mind, it was another standout play for her.
“Those moments, I definitely blacked out,” Harvey said. “Obviously, I celebrated very hard. It was very exciting both times.”
This past season of gaining college hockey experience was huge in terms of building up Harvey’s confidence, and she credited her coaches and teammates for that. If there was a big moment in a game, or her team needed an equalizing goal, Harvey said her team trusted her to be out there.
“Having that confidence from those coaches, coming from the college level, I think it just rolled over into world championships, especially coming right off the national championship,” Harvey said.