PHOTOS BY TROY PARLA
Katerina Mrázová hasn’t looked much like a rookie for the Connecticut Whale. A member of the Czech Republic National Team, Mrázová is leading the team with seven points in five games, including a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 4-0 blanking of the Metropolitan Riveters at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh. On Wednesday, Mrázová was named to the NWHL All-Star Game to be a part of Team Szabados.
“Every game I’m getting more on the same page with my teammates,” said Mrázová, “and it will just keep getting better.”
Mrázová and the Whale earned a pair of wins and five standings points in three straight games against the Riveters, with Mrázová scoring two goals in the Whale’s only loss over that three-game stress – a 4-3 shootout loss. Connecticut will head back up to Buffalo this weekend, looking to avenge of a pair of losses to the Beauts early in the season. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.
Mrázová scored the Whale’s first goal of the season in a close 4-2 loss to the Boston Pride, and since then has been a human highlight reel, scoring in each of the Whale’s past four games. In the Nov. 25 game against the Riveters, Mrázová and her former University of Minnesota-Duluth teammate Michelle Löwenhielm teamed up for an incredible shorthanded goal.
“We have really good chemistry,” Mrázová said of her connection with Löwenhielm. “After playing together at UMD, we know what to expect and know where the other is going to be.”
Mrázová and Löwenhielm, a native of Sweden, are two of four European players on the Whale roster, along with goaltenders Meeri Räisänen from Finland and Maria Sorokina from Russia. Though most of them played at least some college hockey in the United States, Mrázová notes that it’s helpful to have other international players adjusting to life in Connecticut.
“We’re helping each other out. It’s new for a lot of us,” said Mrázová, “but everyone has been so helpful – our teammates and the coaches. Everything worked out really well, and I’m so thankful for that.”
In each game that the Whale plays, the growing chemistry among the team becomes more and more apparent, helped along by the stellar play of Mrázová up front and Räisänen in net. Mrázová notes that practices have been spent working on defensive zone play and special teams, while continuing to develop the connection of the team as a whole.
“There are things we can still work on, but we’re getting better every practice, every game, every minute,” said Mrázová.
“Everyone knows what we’re supposed to do. We have to focus on the small details. If we can forecheck and backcheck well, we’ll be able to bring some points home.”
Beginning with Saturday’s tilt with the Beauts, Mrázová is looking forward to seeing how the Whale’s play and her own continue to evolve throughout the season.
“My goal is always the highest,” she said. “With the team, we can continue to improve every game and I can really see us in the finals. For me, I just want to help the team. The team always comes first, and I just want to help the team; it doesn’t matter how.
“I’m really thankful to be on this Connecticut team and in the NWHL. I hope the fans enjoy watching us play and want to come see us more.”
PHOTO BY CRIS HARBAUGH