CJ Garcia Finding his Groove as a Raven

Garcia on the bench during a game – Photo by Tim Austen

In December of 2017, former Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) defenceman CJ Garcia bolstered the Carleton Ravens men’s hockey team by becoming a key player that would help them make it to the playoffs and succeed in them.

“I know that I need to develop a little bit more, so I thought Carleton was the best fit for me,” Garcia said about his decision to come to Carleton.

“They needed some defence at the time, and they had a winning record before I came, with Marty Johnston, and now with Shaun Van Allen here they have a lot of NHL experience so I thought it was the best fit,” Garcia added.

While playing in the OHL, Garcia had a successful career as part of the Barrie Colts, Guelph Storm, and the Saginaw Spirit. Garcia played in 288 games while also recording 18 goals and 66 assists, good enough for 84 total OHL points.

“It has opened my eyes to a lot of different avenues and a lot of things outside of the game and inside of the game. I feel like some things happen for a reason and I feel like this is one of the steps that I’m taking and hopefully it will help me in my end goal,” Garcia said about how his OHL experience has matured him.

To further his playing career, Garcia joined the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL in the last half of the 2016-17 season. He was then sent over to the Colorado Eagles at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. While a part of the ECHL, Garcia played in 10 games while recording one assist.

“It was awesome. I still miss it to this day and I hope that once I’m done, I can go back there after,” Garcia said.

Like multiple athletes, Garcia has faced many challenges and adversities to get him to the type of person and player he is today.

“So far I’d say there’s definitely been some ups, but there’s also been some downs. My first year of junior, playing on a really deep team with Aaron Ekblad and Ryan O’Connor, and a bunch of guys who are playing in the NHL right now, like Mark Scheifele, trying to find a spot and trying to fit in, that was definitely tough for the first two years,” Garcia said.

Despite Carleton not being directly on his career path, Garcia has grown to the team and fit in nicely as a Raven. So far, at the USports level, Garcia has played in 30 games, while recording one goal and 11 assists, for a total of 12 points.

“Some things happen for a reason and I’m happy I’m here now and that my time at Carleton has been a blast. I didn’t really get to experience playing junior hockey, didn’t really get to experience the high school and college experience, but now I finally get to do it and I’m loving it everyday so far,” Garcia said.

Since Garcia has been a part of the Ravens, his teammates have voiced how well he has gelled with the team and how he puts the team first.

“I think CJ has been a great addition to our team since joining us at Christmas last year. He plays a great role in his own end and takes pride in the small things in the game. His work ethic on and off the ice doesn’t go unnoticed by the team,” teammate Dakota Odgers said.

“He’s a player who puts his team first, takes pride in the little things, and brings a winning attitude to the team,” teammate Hayden Hulton added.

As to where the future will bring him, Garcia is thinking along the lines academically, but hoping for some European adventures.

“I would think just for me, honestly just getting my degree here, hopefully doing something with my Masters, something in Communications and Law,” Garcia said.

“And then hopefully if everything works out after here, I could go play in Europe and go have a nice career down there. That’d be great, that’s my aspiration and I hope after this, that everything works out for me,” Garcia added.

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