Rider senior represents U.S. in World Cup of College Hockey
Christopher Johnson, a senior criminal justice major who's minoring in homeland security and sociology, represented Rider University and the United States in the recent inaugural World Cup of College Hockey.
Johnson was one of 22 players chosen for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Select Team that played in the international competition from Dec. 28, 2017, to Jan. 8, 2018. Rider was one of 15 ACHA colleges and universities represented on the team.
“Hockey has always been a part of my life,” Johnson says. “To go to Europe with a new group of guys and represent our school and country is something that I will probably never get to do again.”
Players were chosen for the ACHA Select Team during the ACHA All-Star Challenge, in which Johnson led his team in points. A group of coaches watched the All-Star Challenge and chose which players they were interested in learning more about.
“Once I was notified that I was chosen, I had to submit a whole resume about my college experience and why I thought I should be part of the team,” Johnson says. “They obviously wanted good hockey players, but they also wanted good people to represent the ACHA as well.”
Johnson is currently interning with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. In addition to his criminal justice major, he's minoring in homeland security and sociology and considering pursuing a master's degree in homeland security from Rider after graduation. His ultimate aspiration is to join a government agency such as the U.S. Marshals, the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.
In four years Johnson tallied 138 points for the University's club ice hockey team. These past two years he has served as the team’s assistant captain. When he joined Rider in 2014, Johnson found the ice hockey team offered more than just the opportunity to play his favorite sport.
“Coming to Rider my freshman year and talking to the coach allowed me to meet a few of my teammates beforehand,” Johnson explains. “Playing a sport definitely helps you meet more people. Obviously, you get to meet the team, and right off the bat you have 20-some-odd friends.”
Johnson stayed busy in his spare time by joining the Phi Sigma Tau International Honor Society in Philosophy and the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. He also held positions such as treasurer of the hockey team and activities supervisor for Rider’s Conference Services.
Despite his busy schedule, Johnson found that ice hockey helped him throughout his time as a student.
“Being a student-athlete definitely takes up a lot of time,” Johnson says. “The amount of work we put into hockey is a lot, but it’s still such a fun time. It’s a time to step away from school life and kind of just relax and forget about everything.”
The ACHA Select Team traveled across Europe while matching up against teams from the European University Hockey Association and the Russian Student Hockey League, facing-off against top contenders from Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The team's schedule was packed with games and practices, leaving only one day to rest. Johnson and his teammates found themselves growing closer as they balanced their schedules in Europe.
“Aside from hockey, we would be going out before and after games to sightsee and take in what we could,” Johnson says. “Everyone grew closer — you kind of get to know everyone and it turned out to be a lot of fun.”
For Johnson, one of the most memorable parts of the trip was celebrating New Year’s Eve in Kraków, Poland.
“It was all in a little town square with a stage set up in the middle and it was surrounded by stores, restaurants and bars,” Johnson says. “It was a new experience for everybody. We all just kind of stuck together and found our way around. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. We had some great laughs.”
The ACHA Select Team won silver in the World Cup of College Hockey, and Johnson still keeps in touch with many of his teammates. Although on the verge of graduating, he still has his eye on the ice.
“I’m 90 percent sure that I’m going to come back and do a fifth year to get my graduate degree in homeland security,” Johnson says. “Obviously, it will benefit my career and resume, and I’m not quite ready to be done playing hockey yet.”