“I Wouldn’t Trade My Position for the World” – Our Q&A with Easthampton’s Paige Galpin

The regular season just wrapped up on Thursday and the MIAA plans to reveal its State Tournament playoff brackets on Saturday morning at 10am ET. Several hockey players, coaches, fans, students and talent evaluators from across the Commonwealth will be tuned in to watch the brackets get revealed and find out where all the teams fit in the playoff picture. One team that will have it’s eye on the Division 3 bracket is Easthampton HS, who finished the season with a record of 12-8-0, scoring an impressive 94 goals in 20 games, only letting up 56 in the process. They will be on the road for Game 1 and await the bracket reveal to find out where their playoff journey will start.

One of the most interested members of the watch party will no doubt be senior captain Paige Galpin. She tends the net for the Eagles and has been a mainstay on the roster for the past three seasons, earning the C this season while leading the team to a playoff berth. Paige’s story is one that greatly intrigued us at MassNZ, watching footage of her play in the process of working on our latest scouting report.

We had a few questions to learn more about Paige’s journey through hockey, her experience playing on both girls and boys hockey teams and learning more about her relationship with goaltending. Here is what we learned!

MassNZ: What first got you interested in hockey? When did you start skating?

Paige Galpin: I first began skating when I was five years old. I never thought of pursuing hockey until my older brother began playing and my dad told me I should give it a shot. I picked up learn to skate with my local hockey organization shortly after and loved it from the start. 

MassNZ: Was there a professional player you looked up to from a young age or a person close to you who inspired you to play?

PG: Growing up, I would go over to a family friend’s house for “Bruins Night” where we would all watch the game. I remember watching the goalie, at the time it was Tim Thomas, and thinking he was the coolest guy on earth and also a role model. It wasn’t until I was older that female hockey players like Hilary Knight and Maddie Rooney became role models for me as well. Of course, my biggest inspiration was my older brother Tyler who encouraged me to throw goalie pads on and show them what I had. He was always the leader in my life and is the reason I never gave up. 

MassNZ: Did you play a variety of positions growing up or did you start playing in net right from the start?

PG: I played as a defenseman until about the age of 8 when I got my first set of goalie pads and took it up as a full-time position. From there I never looked back. 

MassNZ: Goaltending is such a unique position in hockey, what is it about the position that you enjoy the most?

PG: I love playing goalie without a doubt. I love the adrenaline rushes from breakaway saves, the endless opportunities to make solid saves and the support from my teammates. This position offers me a lot of spotlight to show my potential and to better myself both mentally and physically. 

MassNZ: For anyone unfamiliar with the hockey culture in Easthampton: what do they need to know; what’s unique about learning to play in Western MA? 

PG: Easthampton hockey culture is like having a second family. The best part about growing up and learning to play in Western MA is that you know everyone. I’ve played with most of my high school team since I was 7, therefore we have an unbreakable bond. On and off the ice, there is an intense passion for the sport and a lifetime of memories to follow it. We’re always fired up to not only play but be a team out there on the ice.

MassNZ: What has your journey been like to get to play high school hockey for Easthampton? Did you play across a variety of youth teams growing up? 

PG: It’s honestly ironic because I grew up playing boys hockey until I was 12 and then switched to a full-time girls travel team the Springfield Jr. Thunderbirds. I played for them until I was 15 when their name had switched to MassConn United. I even played a year with the Western Mass Vipers. I never thought I would go back to boys hockey but when I realized I had no option to play girls hockey in high school, I quickly said yes to play for Easthampton. It was really hard to adapt at first but I quickly adjusted and have had a blast since. 

Galpin makes a save with the Junior Thunderbirds

MassNZ: Have you played co-ed hockey on most of your teams growing up or were you playing on girls teams? Or was it a combination of both?

PG: I grew up playing both with boys and girls. I took and break from boys hockey for a while and played in a travel league with girls for about 4 years until returning to boys high school hockey. The combination of playing both, I feel, has given me the opportunity to be a very flexible goaltender who can be thrown in any game and be comfortable and confident in playing.

MassNZ: You have spent three years at the varsity level for Easthampton, how do you feel you have progressed and improved with each season under your belt?

PG: With each new season, I get more and more experience under my belt. I increase the bond with my teammates and become a leader. Every practice, every game, I learn something new. I definitely have adapted to the increase in physicality since switching from girls and some of the rules are different. I have also adapted to being the only girl and building a mental toughness around me to stay on my toes and ready for the next puck drop. It’s always a work in progress and I’m very grateful for every opportunity.

MassNZ: At the high school level you are leading the Easthampton boys varsity squad as team captain as a senior: can you speak to that responsibility and how would describe yourself as a leader?

PG: Being the captain as a senior is beyond rewarding, especially being the only girl and knowing my hard work pays off. It’s also a full circle moment as my brother was my captain my sophomore year and I get to continue in his footsteps. I’m a very direct and to-the-point leader. I know when the vibes need to get amped up or when we need to take a moment seriously. My favorite part about being captain is being a role model for the underclassmen and being proud of the work we show out on the ice. I love leading this team and being a representative for the organization.

Tyler and Paige Galpin on Tyler’s Senior Night in 2022

MassNZ: You are one of the select few female captains of a boys team in the MIAA – can you describe what it means to you to be in this position?

PG: Being one of the few female captains of a boys team is truly honoring. It was incredibly hard to achieve that title and there were definitely days where I felt like giving up. Having this title doesn’t mean I’m the best on the team or the most popular, instead, it’s someone who’s most likely to be a role model and someone the team can rely on. This position to me is an insight into what many girls who don’t go to prep school struggle with as there are very limited girls high school hockey teams. It shows that for any girl who has the heart to play, they too can play and become a captain in an industry dominated by males. 

MassNZ: In addition, you play arguably the most important position on the ice in every game, is that a unique challenge for you game-to-game?

PG: Although the goalie is the last line of defense, it’s what happens outside the crease that matters most. I wouldn’t trade my position for the world. I love every aspect of it. I think the biggest challenge for me is the mental aspect, especially being the only female in almost every game. It’s really easy for parents, players, and fans to point fingers at me when a goal gets scored and it can be a lot of pressure. I’ve luckily grown to isolate that out and maintain my focus throughout the game. I treat every game the same and bring my best efforts to the table. 

Galpin makes a save for Easthampton

MassNZ: You have backstopped the Eagles to a spot in the State Tournament, congratulations! The team must be excited to be in this position, what has you excited about this team, and the chance to play meaningful games in March?

PG: Our team is pumped to have a shot in States. I’m most excited to see the team give it their all out there in hopes of success. We have had some really solid games this year and the team has grown a lot stronger since the beginning of the season. I’m excited for us seniors to play until the end and enjoy these last games together. We’ve all come a long way and we’re ecstatic to show the rest of Mass what Easthampton has in store. We’re gonna go for it.

MassNZ: Finally, have you thought about what you want to pursue once you graduate? Do you have intentions to continue playing at higher levels of hockey? 

PG: I plan to continue my hockey career at Wilbraham Monson Academy next year as a Post Graduate. I’m pretty stoked to be a part of their new girls hockey program and hopefully, it will open up some doors for hockey from there. 


MassNZ would like to thank Paige and Coach Tim Pfau for their time and background on this story.