EASTON, Mass. – The North Iowa Bulls, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Carter Rapalje has committed to continue his hockey career at Stonehill College, an NCAA Division I institution. Stonehill will compete as an independent NCAA Division I program in 2022-23, their first at the Division I level. He is the ninth North Iowa player to announce an NCAA commitment this season, and the first Bull ever to commit to play for the Skyhawks.
The Burlington, Vermont native’s announcement is a historic one for the Bulls as well as the NAHL – he is the league’s first player ever to commit to Stonehill, and will be the first Bull ever to suit up for the Skyhawks when he takes the ice this fall. Stonehill announced in early April that the school’s athletic program would be leaving the NCAA Division II Northeast 10 Conference, of which it was a founding member in 1980, and elevating to Division I.
“There are a lot of things about Stonehill that have me excited to attend,” said Rapalje. “I am looking forward to being part of the team’s transition to Division I. After speaking with the coaches, I like that they are giving me an opportunity to make a difference. The coaches are hoping that I’ll be able to have a successful season like I did with North Iowa – it was important to them that I continue my training and be ready to make an immediate impact as part of their transition to Division I.”
After a four-year run in the Colorado Rampage AAA program and a brief stint with the Amarillo Bulls in 2019-20, Rapalje had a solid season for the Bulls in 2020-21 with eight points in 41 games, and earned a spot on the South Division’s Top Prospects roster that spring. He returned to the Bulls in Mason City this past season, and made an immediate impression with North Iowa fans, notching 28 goals and 14 assists in 50 games. His 28 goals led the team and ranked third in the Central Division. He was selected to make a second Top Prospects appearance, but a five-week spell on the injured list prevented him from playing in the tournament.
“We are excited and proud that Carter Rapalje has made his commitment to Stonehill College,” said North Iowa head coach and general manager Todd Sanden. “Carter is a great teammate and locker-room guy. His commitment to our community in North Iowa was tremendous, as he volunteered for every NAHL and NA3HL team community event. Carter has dynamic speed that will translate to the Division I level, and his off-ice and on-ice work ethic and determination will serve him well at Stonehill and beyond.”
Rapalje now returns to his native New England and joins a Skyhawks program led by UMass Lowell graduate David Borges, who led the team to two Northeast 10 titles in nine seasons at the Division II level and will see the program into its Division I era. Last year’s team won seven games after taking the 2020-21 season off in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
“I really like the focus that Stonehill puts on its academics,” said Rapalje, who is planning to pursue a degree in sports management. “They offer a lot of great courses with smaller class sizes.”
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Carter Rapalje on his commitment to Stonehill College, and wish him continued success as he takes the next step in his academic and athletic career.