Mount Mercy Academy Hockey Players Blazing a Trailby cnewman
BY: Matthew Ondesko, Metro Source Editor | December 31, 2013
SOUTH BUFFALO - "This is a great group of girls that
I am blessed to have for my first year as head coach, and here's to
many more years of being on the ice and on the MMHSAA bench." Linda
When you think of high school hockey success in South Buffalo, your mind goes right to Bishop Timon High School.
After all, the Tigers have won a couple of Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation championships. They also produced Timmy Kennedy, who plays for the Phoenix Coyotes and numerous Division I players, through the years.
But, just a couple blocks over at 88 Red Jacket Parkway, the young ladies at Mount Mercy Academy are showing people that good hockey isn't just being played by the boys at Timon these days.
That's because nine young ladies are putting on the purple, black and silver jersey of the Monsignor Martin of the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation. The Monsignor Martin is the two-time defending champions of the Federation and the Mount Mercy hockey players have been a big part of the success.
Last season, then freshman, Brigid Keane scored the game-winner to cap an undefeated season.
"She has unbelievable speed and passion for the game," said Mroz. "She does not stop working until the final whistle of the game."
To be able to have so many classmates on one team is a nice luxury to have.
"It's kind of comforting, because you have an outlet at school," said Mount Mercy Academy sophomore Catherine Radwan. "We have Madeline (Stoklosa) and (Katherine) Lauber as the two older girls. And, then, we have the captain Shannon Moran (senior). So, it's nice, they have been able to show us the ropes."
The older girls on the team have been doing a good job of showing the younger players the ropes. Moran and juniors Madeline Stoklosa and Lauber have already won two Federation titles, while Keane and Radwan each took home one.
Because of that kind of early success, schools like Mount Mercy have seen an uptick in the interest in the hockey program. They also see an uptick in enrollment because of the hockey program.
While some incoming freshmen picked the academy because of where they live, some did choose the school for the fact they have so many classmates on the team.
"I had a friend whose sisters went here," stated Mount Mercy freshman goaltender Brianna Gawronski. "But, when I heard there was hockey here, I wanted to come here."
With the word getting out more and more, there might be chance, down the road the academy at some point could field its own team.
While that may not happen for awhile, the young ladies that make up part of Monsignor Martin team believes it could be a reality.
"I could see when girls hockey takes off in the next few years," stated Radwan. "Maybe not Mercy right away getting their own team, but maybe grouping schools together into a north and south. But, hopefully, Mercy will have its own hockey team."
With all the success, however, the players are still trying to build a fan base at the school.
Women's hockey doesn't have the hitting and the same kind of speed like the men's game does. So, it has been a tough sell to the rest of the student body to come see them play.
Another big reason for the lack of attendance by the student body is because the Monsignor Martin doesn't play any games at Caz Ice Rink in South Buffalo.
Most games are played in North Buffalo, Kenmore, Northtowns Center, Nichols or East Aurora.
"There's no boys there," Radwan said laughingly. "People just don't know [about it]," added Stoklosa.
Then there is the thing about girls playing hockey. While this is the year 2014, many still feel that girls shouldn't be playing the sport.
Because of this, it is still hard trying to get acceptance at times.
"There is that superstition as well that girls shouldn't be playing hockey," said Stoklosa.
What people might not know from never going to a game is the girls' game has a better pace to it.
It has a better flow. Yes, there are times when some teams are over matched. But, because you can't body check in the girls' game, there is more thinking and better control along the boards.
"It's different because you just can't body check someone to get the puck," explained Radwan. "You have to think a little more out there. It's nice to see the difference. You don't always know what to expect."
Added Gawronski. "I watched the Women's Frozen Four a couple of years ago and that was really interesting. Everybody was skating and I thought it was almost better than the pros."
The young ladies at Mount Mercy Academy may not look at themselves as pioneers for the sport of hockey. But, what they are doing for a school, and a community that craves hockey, is something special.
And someday, they will be looked upon as the ones that started a hockey tradition at Mount Mercy Academy.