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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Men’s hockey’s Hapward relishes his fresh start

Leo Woods
Men’s hockey goalie CJ Hapward stretching before a game against Salve Regina University Feb. 9.

To Suffolk University men’s hockey goaltender CJ Hapward, opportunity is everything. Now the starting goalie for the Rams, Hapward’s leap of faith led him to Suffolk and allowed him to take over the starting role for a team looking to make a run at a playoff spot.

Hapward spent the last three seasons at Colby College as well as the fall semester this year, where he was buried on the Mules’ goalie depth chart. He played in just 11 games over three years, which led to him seeking a fresh start.

Having played with Michael McEachern, son of Suffolk men’s hockey head coach Shawn McEachern at Colby, Hapward got the sense there was an opportunity at Suffolk for him to play. That was all he needed to hear, and he decided to come to Suffolk after entering the transfer portal.

“I just tried to be as upfront and honest as I could with everybody, being transparent with Colby,” said Hapward. “Got a couple calls from some schools. I talked to Suffolk pretty early and had an inkling this is where I wanted to end up, and I’m really happy to be here.”

He joined the Rams for the spring semester after getting his degree from Colby, graduating early and with the athletic eligibility of a junior. He’ll have a full season of eligibility next season while still being a graduate student at Suffolk.

Hapward has started all 12 games the Rams have played since winter break, with a save percentage of 0.923 and a goals-against average of 2.67. He took over the goalie crease for the Rams that had previously been shared by freshmen Kannon Flageolle and Chris Jackson.

“I think the most impressive thing about CJ is he hadn’t played hockey for the first half of the year at Colby and was practicing on his own. He came in and played against Connecticut College and really was the best player in the game I thought, played great and he hasn’t missed a beat,” said coach McEachern. “He’s playing very well each game, he’s really consistent and technically a really good goalie.”

Starting every game was something Hapward was looking forward to after only playing sparingly in his time at Colby.

“It’s a lot of fun getting that workload, that’s something I was definitely looking for,” said Hapward. “There’s little adjustments here and there, just things like taking care of your body and being ready to go every single night. I’ve embraced it and I’ve had a lot of fun, luckily we were able to win some games here.”

Being a midseason addition, sometimes it can take time for players to get acclimated to the team. It wasn’t too much of an issue for Hapward, and he credits his teammates for helping him adjust quickly.

“Coach McEachern and all the guys were super helpful. Everyone took me in and introduced themselves, I was hanging out with the guys right from the start,” said Hapward. “I think overall the transition has been really great and I feel like I’ve been here way longer than I have been, which is good because I feel super comfortable.”

After graduating from James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, New Jersey, Hapward started his junior hockey career before moving to the college game. He played for the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League, the New Jersey Rockets of the National Collegiate Development Conference and one game for the Kenai River Brown Bears in Alaska before his final junior league stop with the Connecticut Junior Rangers.

During that time, Hapward started fine-tuning his pregame routine, something that hockey players are strict about and that he also takes seriously.

“Once I started playing junior hockey, that’s where I solidified what I do before games and it’s the same stuff that I’m doing now and did at Colby,” said Hapward. “It’s kind of a work in progress. You find out what works and what doesn’t, what you like and what you need to play your best. I’ve been working on that a lot and I think it’s at a good point right now.”

Making the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs has been a consistent challenge for Suffolk. They were able to be in contention up until the season finale, and McEachern isn’t forgetting that Hapward played a big role in that.

“So far he’s been really consistent, he’s been great in the second half for us. It’s big to have an older guy in net right now,” said McEachern.

Although the Rams ultimately didn’t make the playoffs, Hapward is grateful for the opportunity he’s gotten at Suffolk. Next year, he’ll have that opportunity too, and he’s excited about it.

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About the Contributors
Michael Najarian
Michael Najarian, Sports Editor | he/him
Michael is a sophomore print/web journalism major from Framingham, Massachusetts. He’s also a member of the Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Outside of running and writing for the Journal, Michael is an avid Boston sports fan who will be seen watching sports quite frequently. After graduation, Michael is looking for a career in the sports industry. Follow Michael on X @MichaelNaj3
Leo Woods
Leo Woods, Photo Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

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