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What’s in a Name?

When it comes to girls hockey in WNY there is no doubt that Monsignor Martin Athletic Association team has elite talent on its roster.

One thing that isn’t readily known is the team’s nickname. Head Coach Linda Groff-Mroz jokingly calls the team her Purple Minions. She also knows that, because they are a merged team made up of all of the Catholic Schools, opposing teams sometimes refer to them as the Evil Empire. In Mroz-Groff’s eyes, that works too.

“It depends, if I’m in a wacky mood we’re gonna be the Purple Minions. Or if I’m in a pissed off mood we’re gonna be the Evil Empire,” Groff-Mroz said.

“How I would like to prepare for every practice and every game is (with mindset) we’re going up against the best of the best and we’re going to play to that caliber.”

Coming off a memorable 2015-16, Monsignor Martin Athletic Association team scored a 2-0 win over Williamsville to claim its fourth Fed title in five years to cap off a perfect 15-0 season.

As the “Purple Minions” hit the ice for the 2016-17 season the goal of a championship is once again on their minds.

Returning a solid cast of girls who were key parts of the championship season gives reason to believe that they will once again be in the thick of the battle.

Senior Brianna Gawronski, who earned the shut out in the title game, returns between the pipes. Easily the most colorful player in the league, coaches and teammates have endless stories about the way Gawronski has made them laugh. But they have even more stories about how she has come up with the big save when it was needed most.

Senior Makenna Walp also brings experience to the crease. Both Walp Gawronksi’s experience will be key as MMAA lost top defenseman and team leader Maeve Christ to graduation.

But they do return a powerful offense that includes forwards Ellie Cleary, Izzy Freidman, Kayla Blas and Kaitlin Drew-Mead who had 16 goals, 24 points and was the All-Bee News Player of the Year. Drew-Mead said that even though the team is comprised of girls from multiple schools when they get in the room and on the ice, they are one.

“I think it gets easier from year to year because because we know the people coming in,” Drew-Mead said.

“(And) all of us know each other from playing outside the league.”

Proud of the magical season they put together last season, the MMAA squad knows that they can’t expect to succeed this year based on last year’s run.

“I don’t even think that it’s so much they know what it takes to succeed, they just know what I expect,” Groff-Mroz said.

“So its nice to have those veterans especially taking some of the rookies and freshmen under their wings.”

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