Purple Eagles name Harpur captain
Chris Harpur got a late start in his first season as captain of the Niagara University Purple Eagles.
The 24-year-old native of Niagara-on-the-Lake was sidelined for Niagara’s first three games of the 2020/21 campaign but finally got into action this week in a 3-3 tie versus Mercyhurst.
“I had some COVID complications to start the season,” Harpur said. “I’ve been wanting to get out there with the guys and help them any way I can. Obviously it’s a strange time and a strange year for everyone.
“I’m thankful I still have the opportunity to play.”
Harpur was thrilled when Niagara coach Jason Lammers approached him about wearing the C.
“I wore an (assistant captain) A towards the end of last year and I just came in this year expecting to be myself. I didn’t think too much into it and just wanted to let it play out,” Harpur said. “I had a couple of conversations with the coach and obviously it was a huge honour. I was lost for words at that time.
“It means a lot to me and I just want to be a good leader for everyone on and off the ice.”
Harpur, a solid, stay-at-home defender, was given the advice to just be himself.
“He (coach) knows the kind of guy I am and he likes the kind of guy I am,” Harpur said. “Clarity, honestly and integrity, stuff like that, and just be yourself and lead the guys and do the right things first and then ask others to do the same. Just know people are watching and just be you and do the right thing.”
Harpur joined the Purple Eagles on a scholarship after spending two seasons with the Cowichan Capitals in the British Columbia Hockey League. Harpur had a standout season in 2016-17, serving as the Capitals’ captain and scoring 39 points in 54 games played. He ranked fourth on Cowichan in scoring, and placed fifth among all BCHL defencemen in points. Harpur was an assistant captain for the Capitals in 2015-16, playing 58 games and scoring 20 points. His first BCHL campaign came with the Victoria Grizzlies in 2014-15.
He began his junior career at the junior C level with the Niagara Riverhawks before advancing to the Niagara Falls Canucks for a season of junior B.
He called heading west was the one of the best decisions he ever made.
“Leaving home at 17 was tough but I knew it was the step and decision I had to make if I wanted to ultimately play NCAA,” he said. “There are other leagues, but that is arguably the best league in Canada and still is to this day, so I knew if I got out there I would give myself a better chance of attaining a D1 scholarship.”
Harpur is in his fourth season with the Purple Eagles and could return for a fifth after the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It went by like a flash before my eyes,” said Harpur, who is majoring in sports management. “It was really quick. I remember coming in my freshman year thinking I have four years of it and now I’m my fourth year. I wish I could go back and do some things different but you can’t look back too much on the past.”
Harpur isn’t quite sure what the future will hold.
“Obviously I love Niagara but I want to think about it (coming back for a fifth season). I will have my degree and I have figure out what kind of work I’d want to get into and if pro is an option, that would be a route I would consider as well.”
Harpur comes from a sports family. Older sister Katie Harpur played basketball at Brock while older brother Ben Harpur is a former defenceman for the Ottawa Senators who is now a member of the Nashville Predators organization.
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