November 23, 2011

Passion For The Puck

By Lauren Leary
Special to GoHolyCross.com

It would be no exaggeration to say that Stacey Hochkins is the most decorated female hockey player to ever play at Holy Cross. Entering this season as a senior forward, she has already been selected twice to the Division II/III New England All-Star team, earned Reebok second team All-American honors for two consecutive seasons, was named to the first team All-ECAC East three times, was chosen to be on the ECAC Open All-Tournament team twice, was selected as the ECAC East Player of the Week five times, earned the title of the ECAC East Player of the Year in 2010 and was named the ECAC East Rookie of the Year in 2009. Last season, Hochkins led the Crusaders with 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 total points. As only a junior, she broke the Holy Cross career goal record, finishing the season ranked first all-time with 75 career goals. After the first six games of this season, she has now scored 83 goals and has also broken the school record with her 155 career points. In addition, Hochkins is currently tied for first all-time with 72 career assists. Yet, despite all of the hours she logs on the ice, there is much more to this team leader than what she has been recognized for on paper.

Leaving her home in New Boston, Mich., (a small town just south of Detroit) in the fall of 2008, was no easy task for Hochkins. She had spent the early part of her life following in the footsteps of her three older siblings, Ricky, Bobby, and Angela, and was about to embark on her first independent journey to college in the northeast. "I love Holy Cross now, but at first it was really hard – I didn't know anyone here," Hochkins admits. "The hockey team has to stay at school pretty much all semester, so I didn't get to go home my freshman year until Christmas. It was tough."

Now a senior majoring in Economics, Hochkins has adjusted well to life in Worcester. She stayed at Holy Cross this past summer to do research within the Economics department, focusing on how different housing requirements and environmental concerns affect the prices of homes. Despite her busy ice hockey schedule, Hochkins plans to continue doing research with Professor Kiel next semester, and is also planning to intern for the Worcester Sharks AHL team in the spring.

Hochkins' strong leadership skills both on and off the ice developed from the continuous support she has received from her family. As a ritual before every game, she calls her father back in Michigan, and even credits her older brother for the beginning of her athletic career. "When I was younger I did everything Bobby did," she says. "He played hockey and baseball so I played hockey and softball. When I was about eight years old Bobby was playing roller hockey and a girl on my softball team asked if we wanted to switch over to play on the ice so we decided to try it."

It is hard to imagine that at the time, Hochkins and her family could envision this simple decision leading to the success she has had at Holy Cross. Now many years later and hundreds of miles away, her parents still make an effort to attend as many games as possible. "They were the parents who were at every game in high school, so I think it's kind of hard for them to be so far away from me," she explains. "They try to come out as much as they can for the weekends, driving half of the distance Thursday night and the rest of the way on Friday. I'm very lucky to have them."

The impact Hochkins has made on the Holy Cross women's ice hockey team is undoubtedly large. The program has clearly benefited from her dedication, as they have won three consecutive ECAC Open titles since she began playing for the Crusaders.  Fellow senior, friend and teammate Carly Dominick-Sobol explains, "Stacey has made a huge impact on our team. Not only can you count on her to find the puck and score in pressure situations, or any situation really, she also serves as a great leader off the ice. Whether it be in the weight room, or at a team event, Stacey always maintains her focus and reminds the team that we are all capable of doing her favorite thing, winning."

Dominick-Sobol also points out that Hochkins' successful career has been motivational for her teammates. "Stacey's record breaking statistics and perseverance through all obstacles makes her a great role model. I'm lucky to have her as a teammate and friend." The team has bonded off the ice through programs such as "Girl's Choice", a program Hochkins participated in her freshman and sophomore years at Holy Cross. The team traveled to the YWCA in Worcester every Saturday to aid girls who were struggling in high school – both socially and academically. The team was forced to stop participating in the program last year, however, as their busy schedule prevented them from being able to guarantee weekly visits. This was initially difficult for the Crusaders, as Hochkins describes, "We got pretty close with a lot of the girls, but I do understand that they need someone who would be able to be there for the girls at all times." Yet, she has been able to further her interest in volunteering through her involvement in Holy Cross's Student Programs for Urban Development, where she currently tutors fourth grade students at Quinsigamond Elementary in mathematics. Her dedication to community service is especially impressive, as student-athletes at Holy Cross already carry strenuous schedules.

Hochkins' passion for ice hockey has only grown stronger throughout her time at Holy Cross, and her motivation does not appear to be slowing down. "Hockey is sort of like a release for me," she says. "When I'm on the ice I don't really think about anything else, so I don't really ever get sick of it. I just really enjoy it."

She plans to extend her ice hockey career after college by playing overseas for a year or two, following in the footsteps of former teammate Jocelyn Kratchmer, who is currently playing in Prague. "I know I can't really go anywhere with hockey," Hochkins admits. "It's not like I'm going to play in the NHL or anything, but I just want to go abroad and explore Europe. Then I'll come back and get a real job." This "real job", she explains, will most likely consist of a career in marketing or another related field.

It is clear that Hochkins' motivation exists not only on the ice, as she has had a variety of accomplishments throughout her time on the Hill. This progressive attitude will undoubtedly carry her, as well as the rest of the women's ice hockey team, through another successful season at Holy Cross.