Kiraly family brings home pair of NCAA national titles
One might be surprised to learn that there is no sibling rivalry between Danny and Hannah Kiraly.
The Glendale natives, who grew up playing hockey with programs in Peoria and Arcadia, were each members of their respective colleges’ Division III national championship teams this season – a remarkable feat and one that found them rooting for each other more than trying to outdo the other.
“Surprisingly, there’s not that sibling rivalry,” said Hannah Kiraly, a junior defenseman at Plattsburgh State University, which captured its second consecutive national title in March. “We’ve always maintained a really healthy and positive relationship with us and hockey. If anything, we pushed each other to be better. We consulted each other during the hard times and celebrated the great times. We would shoot pucks together, play street hockey together, early morning stick and pucks – and little did we know all those moments would lead us to both winning a national championship in the 2018-19 season. Crazy.”
Danny Kiraly, a junior defenseman at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, agreed.
“I think it’s more of a friendship than anything else,” he said. “We both were so happy for each other after our wins and getting that support from her was cool to have.”
Hannah Kiraly’s title came first chronologically. Her Cardinals topped Hamline University 4-0 to cap their national championship run March 16 in Minnesota. Exactly a week later, at their home rink in Wisconsin, Danny Kiraly and his Pointers teammates put the punctuation mark on an undefeated season by beating Norwich 3-2 in overtime to secure the national title.
“It is pretty wild that we were able to do it in the same year,” Danny Kiraly said. “I think it’s cool, and it gives us a memory that will be unique for us to look back on in the future. Our family is proud of us. It’s not very often two siblings can win national championships in the same year, so it’s a proud moment for our family for sure.”
Added Hannah Kiraly: “It was something my brother and I had talked about all season. It was something we both wanted to do, as any NCAA player would. However, we knew we had really high chances of making history. Danny had a different route than I did, transferring in from a D-I program (Alaska-Fairbanks) that hadn’t made it far into its own playoffs. So I was overjoyed for him that finally he was in a position to win a national title because Danny is an amazing dude and such a talented player. He deserves everything good that comes to him, that’s for sure.”
The siblings grew up as rink rats in a part of the country not necessarily known for its hockey. Danny played for the Peoria Roadrunners, Team Arizona and the CAHA Jr. Coyotes. Hannah played against boys from 8-14 with Peoria and Team Arizona. While both had a number of stops between the Phoenix suburbs and the locales where they found success as national champions, the journey was all worth it.
“My family’s reaction was so much love and excitement,” Hannah Kiraly said. “Hockey has been a huge part of my family’s core, and to reach one of the highest rewards for the sport, together with my best friend, means the world.”
— Greg Ball
(May 1, 2019)