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Senior captain forward CJ Kenny has helped lead the North Haven boys’ ice hockey team back into the Division II State Tournament this winter. (Photo courtesy of CJ Kenny )
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North Haven senior CJ Kenny has been on skates for as long as he can remember. CJ’s older brother played ice hockey, and it didn’t take long for CJ to develop a passion for the ice. CJ’s passion led to him becoming a quality hockey player in North Haven, as well as a captain for the boys’ ice hockey squad at the high school.
“Coming into high school, I was always looking to become a captain and, last year, I was lucky enough to be an alternate. This year, I’m a captain,” says CJ. “It means a lot to be a leader. I’ve always been a leader my whole life, so it means a lot to me to be the kid that the younger guys look up to and give advice to.”
CJ feels especially proud to have helped lead the Indians back into the Division II State Tournament. North Haven didn’t make it the last two years, but got in this winter by playing some great hockey down the stretch on its way to a regular-season record of 10-9-1.
“It feels good to get back there with 10 wins...after a rough middle part of the season. We stayed focus on making the playoffs,” says CJ. “It’s not that we were playing bad, but we weren’t getting the bounces. We kept working hard every day, because we wanted to get back there. We have seven seniors and didn’t want to go out not making the playoffs and have a shot at winning a state championship. We just kept getting the boys ready every day.”
CJ says that his biggest asset is “going hard every shift and giving it all I have to make something happen.” First-year Head Coach Nick Costanzo loves the energy that CJ brings to the Indians, along with his overall mentality on the ice. Costanzo knows that CJ is always setting the right example for his teammates.
“He’s more of a quiet leader. He’s always working hard and lets his play do the talking for him,” Costanzo says. “He’s definitely a 200-foot player. He makes smart plays in the defensive zone and unselfish plays in the offensive zone. The younger guys see that and it makes it hard for our underclassmen to make selfish plays when their leader is making the right plays.”
Another way that CJ sets a good example is by always showing respect for the opposition, no matter how intense a game gets.
“Being a leader, you can’t be trash talking with the other team. You need to have sportsmanship, and I think that’s rubbed off on the other guys,” he says. “They play between the whistles, and it’s good to see that.”
CJ has played different positions during his ice hockey career. CJ was a forward when he first started, transitioned to defense right before entering high school, and then went back to forward for his final two seasons at North Haven.
“When I was younger it wasn’t tough to transition, because the skill level wasn’t as good. In the later years, it was tougher,” says CJ. “The coaches helped me play defense better and become an expert at it.”
CJ typically plays on the wing, but he also sees some as a center. With his background as a defenseman, CJ has a knack for jumpstarting an offensive rush with his play in the defensive end.
“It helped because you know the play to make in certain situations because you used to be the last guy back on defense,” CJ says. “You know the play to make to get the puck out of your zone and get back on offense.”
As the Indians get ready to compete in the postseason, CJ says that his four years with the North Haven boys’ ice hockey team have been a joyous ride.
“It’s been the best four years of my life,” says CJ. “Every day going to the rink, it’s what I love to do.”
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