Coming full circle: Shane Haggerty reflects on hockey career


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Anthony Clark Jr., Sports Editor

Hockey has been a part of Shane Haggerty’s life since childhood. As a West Michigan native and attending Grandville Public Schools throughout K-12, Haggerty falling into the sport was almost inevitable.

The senior forward for Grand Valley State University Men’s Division I Hockey club knew he had his work cut out for him if he was going to be a part of Grandville High School’s team. However, the intense competition of his soon-to-be teammates wouldn’t dissuade Haggerty from going after what he loved.

“Growing up at Grandville the last five, six years they were really good, especially right before I was in high school they were top of the state,” Haggerty said. “It was hard to make that team – but the social setting for it was awesome; it was a really good experience.”

Haggerty’s time as a Bulldog didn’t reach the heights he would have wished for, but his career would still be one to remember as the team was one game away from winning the state championship his junior year. His senior year stats finished with 25 games played, 14 goals, 22 assists and a disappointing loss in the second round of the regional playoffs.

After four years in the maroon and white uniform, Haggerty decided on taking a gap year after graduation before deciding where to attend college. However, he also wanted to continue playing hockey in the meantime. 

With previous ideas of attending Western Michigan University to become an aviation pilot, Haggerty knew his true passion was on the ice rink. Thankfully, the Metro Jets hockey team was a great opportunity to continue working on his craft while figuring out the next step in life.

“I almost consider it like a juco (junior college team) – you go play hockey but you don’t go to any school and use that to get into playing college hockey,” Haggerty said. “There’s different levels to it, but the Metro program is really good with two former AHL players running it, it gets you a lot better and prepares you for college.”

Spending a season with the Jets allowed for Haggerty to take the time to figure out where his collegiate run would be played, and through conversations with friends and others close to him, Haggerty knew GVSU was the right fit for him.

“Right after graduation I didn’t know what to do and didn’t know where I wanted to go to school,” Haggerty said. “That’s why I chose the junior path; it was a good gap year (to figure things out) and realized I wanted to play at Grand Valley.”

Griff’s Georgetown Ice Arena is the home arena for Grandville’s team and a place that Haggerty spent a lot of time training during the off seasons. 

Now in a Laker uniform, this is the same arena GVSU calls home, and the full circle feeling took some getting used to for Haggerty.

“It was a little weird at first because at Georgetown there’s two rinks; Grandville plays on one side, but Grand Valley plays on the other,” Haggerty said. “That was kind of a weird adjustment, but it’s really awesome to be able to finish my career at Georgetown where it basically started – it means a lot to me.”

Transitioning from the junior to near-varsity level was already an adjustment in itself, but Haggerty wouldn’t have anticipated extreme hurdles just after one year with the Lakers.

After his freshman year, the previous DII hockey club announced that it was moving up to DI. Just as the team was preparing for the huge step, COVID-19 shut down the excitement levels and forced the team into an entire year of staying mentally and physically prepared for their next opportunity.

“The hardest part (of adjusting) was the year off but I initially thought the hardest part would be the move up and I knew we would struggle a little,” Haggerty said. “We actually matured a lot (during our time off) and I think that’s what made it come easier than what it should have been.”

The 2021-22 season finally came, and in the team’s inaugural season they won the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL) Championship – the first team in the league’s history to win the conference title in its first season.

Leaving a legacy, as Haggerty mentions, is what the current veterans are shaping the program into for the generations to come. As a co-captain of the team, Haggerty said having a positive culture, strong camaraderie and a sense of identity are the focal points to having a successful season this year.

“The culture is the biggest thing that has changed from DII to DI, and from my freshman year there was only eight of us that stuck it through,” Haggerty said. “The way we stuck through it up to our senior year, it’s finally come full circle. We’ve developed our mental strength and don’t allow the little things to get to us.”

As the GLCHL Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks, Haggerty’s seasons stats are at the top of the team leaderboards. In second for total points (53), Haggerty has 25 goals and 29 assists while averaging 1.86 points per game in 29 games played.

Even though Haggerty does have the privilege of having the ‘C’ stitched to his jersey, he believes the team does an excellent job of leading itself on and off the ice.

“Honestly, I don’t even want to say I lead it – it’s pretty easy because this is the closest team I’ve ever been on,” Haggerty said. “Everyone pulls their own weight, and it doesn’t matter (what year you are), if something is wrong everyone speaks up for the most part.”

Four games remain in the regular season as the Lakers sit at No. 2 in the GLCHL and recently moved up a position in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) to No. 9 overall.

With hopes to repeat the same success as last season and more, Haggerty said the team can’t look too far ahead in order to maintain focus on one battle at a time.

“We try to keep our mindset in sections. Our first goal of the year was to be the best team in Grand Rapids and I think we proved that by (defeating the teams in the area),” Haggerty said. “Now, we won’t get too ahead of ourselves and focus on the conference tournaments, (and) once that’s over, we’ll shift to nationals.”

Reflecting on the most memorable moment in his hockey career, Haggerty didn’t hesitate to say winning the conference title in the team’s first season at the DI level was a second-to-none moment, and hopes to reciprocate that moment at the end of February.