(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
For some, hockey is a first-generation sport. For others, like Arizona State women’s hockey forward Megan Mroczek, it’s a family affair.
Mroczek first laced up her skates in seventh grade, following her brother’s footsteps into the world of hockey, a choice that set her on a collision course with ASU.
Through those years, Mroczek found an identity with the sport played on two blades.
“Hockey has always made me feel tough,” Mroczek said. “When I’m not mentally strong, I feel physically strong.”
It is that physical strength that has shown in the form of speed in Mroczek’s two seasons at ASU. That speed has allowed for the young forward to net two goals this season, and credit two assists to her name.
Alternate captain and fellow center Amber Galles gives high regard to Mroczek’s speed.
“She’s extremely fast,” Galles said. “She’s always going as hard as she can toward the puck, wherever she needs to be.”
Galles also credited Mroczek for her continued positivity and always smiling attitude. Head coach Lindsey Ellis shared similar praise for the sophomore.
“If you look at Megan, she’s usually smiling, and that always good to bring that positive attitude,” Ellis said. “When something’s happening with somebody else, she’s always one of the first ones to step in and make sure they’re okay.”
With all four of the team’s captains graduating, the Sun Devils look to fill in the void of leadership for the 2018-19 season. Luckily, the team won’t have to look too far. In fact the team may only need to look upon the 5-foot-5-inch forward from Chicago.
Just in the current season, Mroczek has become one of the players with the biggest personalities on and off the ice. Brimming with a smile in practice, communicating during games, and being the one to bring the team up in the midst of a disheartening moment.
“When I’m at practice, and when I’m out on the ice, I try to be that teammate that players can come and easily talk to,” Mroczek said.
According to to the sophomore, it’s not a leadership role that she tries to fulfill, but rather the role of a player that the others can relate to and respect.
This makes sense due to her previous experience with players on the current ASU team. Mroczek played with goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden and forward Erin Rawls between 2012 and 2014.
This familiarity will become a vital part of Mroczek’s next season with the Devils. Three incoming Sun Devils for 2018-19 season will have played with her before coming to ASU, Abby Steinman, Sheridan Gloyd and Kyran Lackey.
“Next year is going to be really exciting,” Ellis said. “She already has that on ice chemistry with them, so hopefully she’ll be able to lead them on the ice.”
As for what Mroczek will take going into next season? It’s the lessons learned from the captains.
“From Dannika [Borges], I’ll take [with me] ‘always play with passion,’” Mroczek said. “From KC [McGinley] I learned to be present.”
For now, Mroczek is focused on the upcoming playoff matches in Nebraska and the unification that will befall the program’s first ever playoff bid, noting that the opportunity is a great experience for first-year players; and that the experience of participating in a playoff game will help the team coach the incoming player class.
Although the future is looking bright for the sophomore, the advice of McGinley rings loud in Mroczek’s ears:
“What I am doing now, is the most important thing.”