After finishing off his collegiate career at Wilfrid-Laurier University with 69 points in 91 games played, Wellesley, Ontario native Christian Mroczkowski took his talents overseas to play for GKS Tychy in the Polish Hockey League. The one year contract he signed last August proved well for Tychy. Mroczkowski led the league in points and helped the team to their third championship in five years. In only 46 games he tallied 59 points, including 27 goals. In doing so, he beat out Podhale Nowy Targ forward Krystian Dziubinski and teammate Mike Cichy by one point to lead the league in points in his first season overseas.
I had the honor of being able to interview Christian today, April 8th, over direct messages on Instagram.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. First of all, who got you into the sport of hockey?
Mroczkowski: My dad got me into hockey when I was 2 and a half years old. He took me out skating for the first time, and was instantly hooked.
Who would you say you model your playing style after?
Mroczkowski: My role model and player I try to play like is Peter Forsberg. He was an all-around complete playmaker who had a pass-first mentality. He could play the physical side of the game and he was very competitive, didn’t like to lose and did everything for his team to win.
What is your practice routine? Has it changed as your career progressed?
Mroczkowski: Before the season starts I take the first couple months to build up my strength back by lifting weights and getting the mobility back. Later in the summer I work on more speed and explosive workouts which is when I also start skating again to train for the upcoming season. During the season I just like to maintain my strength and speed because it is difficult to improve on things with a busy and tough schedule during the season. During the season I try and lift weights twice a week and make sure to do some sort of stretching and recovery work everyday especially after games.
I would say not much of my training has changed over the years other than working smarter now and always trying to get faster.
I have heard stories of many players that have superstitions and routines before every game, myself included. Do you have any yourself?
Mroczkowski: I don’t consider myself superstitious but on game days I like to keep a routine that I go through just because my body is used to a certain thing and makes me feel focused for the game. But if I do go through a stretch of some bad games I will add or do something different in my routine.
I do try and also keep my diet and hydration the same on a gameday.
You played three full seasons in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), scoring 199 points in 145 games. It has been five years since you last played in the league, do you miss it?
Mroczkowski: I always like a challenge and playing in higher leagues is always better, so I don’t think I miss it because now I can only focus on hockey, whereas back when I played in university and in the GOJHL I had to focus on hockey and school.
How did the GOJHL compare to collegiate hockey and the Polish Hockey League, in terms of competition?
Mroczkowski: You can’t really compare any of these leagues together because of the age groups in which you play against change drastically, in professional hockey you can play against older players while in the other two leagues you only play against younger players. I would say the Polish league is slightly better overall than collegiate hockey.
Until last summer, you’ve only really played on North American ice. How drastic was the change from playing in North America to playing in Europe?
Mroczkowski: Yes, the European ice surfaces are bigger which I like because you have more time and space to make plays, but also there is more skating so you need to be smarter with your positioning out there.
Which do you prefer?
Mroczkowski: Europe, I like the lifestyle over there in Europe, the schedule is better and you can travel to other countries during your time off, as well as the international break in the middle of the season.
What made you choose the Polish Hockey League and GKS Tychy in particular?
Mroczkowski: They have the best fans, rink, and organization in the league, it’s a hockey town with great support! I also have a Polish passport, which is why I chose the Polish Hockey League.
Do you expect to return to Tychy for next season?
Mroczkowski: Yes I plan on returning next year, just waiting for it to be safe to travel back after this coronavirus pandemic is over.
Moving on from hockey questions, if you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing now?
Mroczkowski: If I wasn’t playing hockey I would either be teaching hockey with either camps or being a coach. If I wasn’t involved with sports I would most likely be a police officer or a firefighter.
If you never played hockey, would you try to play any other sport professionally?
Mroczkowski: Yes, I played soccer growing up so I think I would have pursued professional soccer.
Who is your role model, or role models, in life?
Mroczkowski: Definitely both my parents. They were born in Poland and packed up everything they had to move to Canada to start a new life. They worked for everything they have today and set a perfect example for me to work hard to achieve my goals while providing me with their 100% support to pursue my goals.
Final question, maybe the most important one. What are your thoughts on mint chocolate chip ice cream?
Mroczkowski: I’m a big ice cream guy, and mint chocolate chip is one of my favorites along with peanut butter cup.
A good answer to that last one. Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it so much. Good luck next season, stay safe and stay healthy!
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