Saturday Sports Q&A: Lourdes grad Hanzel building toward big role with Boston U
Maggie Hanzel is one of the best -- if not the best -- defensemen to have come through Rochester's girls hockey program. The 2021 Lourdes graduate will be a sophomore at Boston University this fall, when she said she hopes to take a bigger role as a team leader and a two-way standout on the ice.
Maggie Hanzel graduated from Rochester Lourdes in 2021 as the all-time leader in assists for the school’s girls hockey program. She also finished her career in second place on the school’s all-time points list.
The 5-foot-9 left-shot defenseman played in 17 games for Division I Boston University last season before an injury derailed her freshman season with the Terriers, who finished 12-15-6 overall and 11-9-5 in Hockey East.
Hanzel scored 59 goals and added 90 assists in her Lourdes career, and helped the Eagles to the Class A state tournament three times, including a fourth-place finish in 2020.
She has her sights set on playing a bigger role for BU in her second season. She’s back in Rochester for about six weeks; she’ll return to Boston late next month to start preparing for the school year and the hockey season.
She sat down with the Post Bulletin this week for our Saturday Sports Q+A.
POST BULLETIN: What’s the summer been like for you so far? Are you recovered from your injury?
MAGGIE HANZEL: I just got home (to Rochester) this week. I was out in Boston for the first part of the summer. Our whole team trained together and I took a summer class. … I love it there, the energy of the city. It’s unlike any place I’ve been too, and definitely an adjustment from Minnesota. It’s a fast-paced city, a sports city. There’s always something to do. I never get bored.
PB: What’s your favorite part about living in Boston?
M.H.: It’s definitely fun on the weekends going to the city or just spending time on Newbury Street (a popular shopping and dining area that includes many 19th Century-built brownstones). There are so many historical places on campus, too, like T Anthony’s (Pizzeria), I miss it already. It’s as “B.U.” as you can get, with shrines to all of the different athletic teams, especially the hockey teams.
PB: What was it like stepping into that high level of hockey?
M.H.: It’s definitely an adjustment. My head was spinning a bit in my first practice, but I knew that was coming. I was well prepared mentally to have to adjust to that high level of play and the fast pace of the games and practices. We had a lot of (veteran) defensemen and the seniors took me under their wings immediately and made me feel comfortable right away in the locker room, too.
PB: What was your role on the team as a freshman? What did the coaches ask of you when you were on the ice?
M.H.: Definitely to be more of a shut-down defenseman, play solid defense in our own zone, then make a good first pass to get the puck out of the zone. Mostly just to shut down the opposing team.
PB: How did you adjust, going from a team in high school that needed you to be its best player on both ends of the ice, to a team that was asking you to just be strong defensively in all three zones?
M.H.: It was a little bit different, but it helped that I had played some elite league and on some spring teams that had a different level of intensity (from high school). I wasn’t coming into something that was completely the opposite of what I’d done. It makes it easier to just be able to focus on small areas of the game, rather than everything right away.
PB: What parts of your game are you working on most in advance of your sophomore season?
M.H.: I definitely want to work on my foot speed and my confidence going in. Last year was tough. I was injured halfway through the season and was out for the second half of the season. Missing that many games and sitting on the side makes you think about how much you miss being on the ice and how you can’t take anything for granted.
PB: What was the injury you suffered and how will that experience of having to watch from the sideline help you going forward?
M.H.: Had a tear in my PCL in my knee. I didn’t have to have surgery; just resting was the best way to heal it. I’m back on skates now and back to 100 percent. … Coming in as a sophomore, I’ll have a lot more confidence. I’m acclimated to the school and the dorms already. I just want to be as prepared as I can be.
PB: What sticks out to you most about your first season at BU and what type of role are you hoping to play as a sophomore? Do you hope to be more of a two-way player, as opposed to just a defensive-defenseman?
M.H.: Definitely, it was difficult because we had a large roster, especially on the defensive end, and there was a lot of battling for (lineup) spots. I found myself out on the penalty kill a lot, on special teams, and on the ice in key defensive moments. I want to continue that and off the ice step into more of a leadership role. … One of my big things, too, is to not get rabbit-holed into being just a shut-down ‘D.’ With that increased confidence this fall, I hope to show those (offensive) aspects of my game that I didn’t necessarily show last year.