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Glendale’s Kiraly celebrates NCAA D-III women’s title with Plattsburgh

 

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Suiting up for Plattsburgh State University as a freshman in 2016-17, Hannah Kiraly knew the targets were on the Cardinals right from the start.

That’s what winning three straight NCAA Division III women’s national championships will do to a program.

Make it four.

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Back on March 18, the New York-based Cardinals claimed another national crown after a 4-3 overtime win over Adrian College in Adrian, Mich.

Kiraly, a Glendale native, said “it hasn’t truly hit me yet.”

“The whole experience was surreal,” said Kiraly. “My teammates and I have watched the final game every day since and still get goosebumps. I think it’ll hit me when we receive our rings.”

Over the course of the season, Plattsburgh went an amazing 28-1-1, including a 16-1-1 mark in ECAC West.

Kiraly played all 30 games on the Cardinals’ blue line and fashioned two goals and 17 points.

“Of course, playing for a dominant team is fun, but our coaches and vets have built a culture based on humility and respect,” said Kiraly. “We looked at every team as possible threats regardless of the rankings or previous scores. Coach Kevin (Houle) told us before every game, ‘Everyone plays their best game against us, take no one lightly.’”

Kiraly added that on a personal level, joining a team with such an amazing track record was admittedly intimidating.

“Everyone eventually falls into their roles and mine was positivity,” said Kiraly, a marketing and business double major. “I’m a bubbly person in general and I know how much a tap on the back can go, especially when we’re doing our skating after practice.”

As a youth player back in Arizona, Kiraly said that is where she really learned the game and also gave credit where credit is due.

“I started my career in Arizona as a RoadRunner and finished with Team Arizona out of Arcadia,” noted Kiraly. “I had many great coaches, but Boris Dorozhenko was the biggest influence. Boris taught me that soreness now is success later. Boris helped me become an all-around hockey player from skating to puck handling and both at the same time.

“When I played for Team Arizona, I carpooled with a teammate to practices since the rink was 40 minutes away. After every practice, we went to Chipotle and never got sick of it. Many of my youth hockey memories include games and practices, but nothing beats the memories I made with family and friends.”

After youth hockey, Kiraly attended the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt., before a year with the Northern Cyclones junior team in 2015-16.

“While recruiting my then-teammate and now-roommate Meghan Kraus, Kevin saw me play and planned a time for me to visit,” explained Kiraly. “Meghan being committed to Plattsburgh was a huge selling point, but the coaching is what completely sold me. Coach Kevin’s and Blanch’s (assistant coach Danielle Blanchard) dedication and knowledge of the sport was clear when watching the girls practice.

“I knew right then and there.”

Her freshman season now in the rear-view mirror, Kiraly is now starting to look ahead to the offseason.

“My plans are to prepare for my sophomore year of hockey and school,” said Kiraly. “We have set workouts for our offseason and I’ll be trying to save up some money and give my parents’ wallets a break.”

Knowing what it takes to secure a national championship, Kiraly wants to keep the streak going for the 2017-18 campaign.

“As a team this past year, our goal was to exceed everyone’s expectations and I believe we did just that,” Kiraly said. “Our team next year, excluding the incoming freshmen, knows the taste of winning and we all know the kind of atmosphere, work and sacrifice needed to continue that into our upcoming season.”

— Matt Mackinder