East Xtra: Captain sets standard for Central Catholic

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Last season, defenseman Neil Carleton captained Central Catholic's hockey team, helping lead it to the PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup quarterfinals.

Carleton graduated last spring, but the Vikings' captaincy has stayed in the family.

Senior defenseman Kellen Carleton, Neil's brother, was voted the team's captain this season.

"I've looked up to my brother since Day 1," Kellen Carleton said. "I got to see how he led the team last year and learned from him. He just told me, 'Be yourself and don't change the way you play. Lead by example.'"

Carleton has done that, both on and off the ice.

On the ice, Carleton has been a very good two-way defenseman for the Vikings (8-7). He has two goals (both on the power play) and six assists while also logging a ton of ice time and often matching up with the opposing team's top offensive weapons.

"He's a big factor on the power play," Central Catholic coach Bill Connelly said. "He has one of the hardest shots I've seen at that position. He's also capable of carrying the puck up the ice and feeding his teammates.

"But he doesn't get carried away with offense. He plays a tough, defensive game."

But as good as Carleton has been on the ice, his work off the ice may be better.

Carleton, a Sewickley resident, is a member of Central Catholic's chapter of the National Honor Society and does much work in the community. He has been one of the lead organizers of Central Catholic's efforts at Family House, which provides patients and their families affordable living while they await medical treatment.

Just three weeks ago, Carleton and others on the Central Catholic team got up early to serve breakfast to Family House residents.

"I get just as much out of [community service] as they do," Carleton said. "It always puts a smile on my face. I love doing it."

For his efforts, Carleton was nominated to Hines Ward's Positive Athlete Pittsburgh program. He got to meet the former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver when he went on the Hines Ward Show back in December.

"It was a great experience," Carleton said. "He really embodies so well what it means to be a positive athlete."

Carleton's work in the classroom and in the community earned him acceptance into Carnegie Mellon University, where he will enroll for the fall semester.

He also said he is looking into playing club hockey for the Tartans, where he would be reunited on the ice with his brother, Neil, who is a freshman at CMU.

"It would be great to play with him again," Kellen Carleton said. "I got to play with him throughout my career at Central Catholic and it would be a great experience to be able to do it again."


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