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Hlasnick enjoys her time on the ice for Cortland

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Cortland Athletics

It’s a process. Sometimes the process seems like it’s going to take a long time. You keep grinding, and grinding, hoping to take that next step.

Cortland senior hockey player Jillian Hlasnick had to wait a little longer to make her debut for the Red Dragons. After a Covid year wiped away her first season, Hlasnick finally got on the ice.

Once she got on the ice, Hlasnick has made an impact for a Cortland team that has high expectations every season. Her point total has gone up every where, same with her goal total. As of this writing, Hlasnick has potted 10 goals this season, which is an increase from the past two years.

“After having that year off, and than coming back and getting in the groove of things, you have to kind of figure out where you fit on the team,” stated Hlasnick. “I think I am still figuring it out, for the most part. Everyone has their own roles. We have goal scorers, playmakers, and our goalie is very good, too. She keeps us in a lot games.”

Unless there is some kind of injury involved, it’s not often that a player has a year off from their sport. But, because of Covid, and everything that was going on with that, that’s exactly what happen.

For any player, getting up to speed can be difficult after taking some time off, especially for hockey players. There wasn’t much anyone could do but stay in the house as the world came to a halt.

When Hlasnick finally did get back on the ice, she fully admits that she was a little rusty. She just needed to get back up to speed, and get the feel that she had her entire life.

“I was definitely rusty, because it wasn’t like I could skate, either, because you couldn’t do anything,” stated Hlasnick. “Once you get going, and get back into it, it’s like picking back up where you left off. We always had fun. Especially, if you have to take that much time off. You appreciate it even more, and it makes that much more eager to get back out there.”

If there is one thing to know about Hlasnick she is dedicated. After all, you need to be, if you play your travel hockey with the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles. Coming from Olean, it was a drive for Hlasnick to get to Niagara all the time.

The little over two our drive to Niagara was worth it. The program is known to produce hockey talent, and Hlasnick wanted to play, and train, with the best players in Wester New York. While it was a long drive, her goal of playing college hockey was achieved when she committed to Cortland.

“I’m from Olean, which is a little under two hours from Niagara,” stated Hlasnick. “They have always had one of the best 19U programs, at least when I was growing up, for girls, So, I was happy to play there my senior year of high school. I thank my parents, because they were crazy for letting us do that. Basically, we would just get home from school, pack something to eat and go to practice, Come home and go to bed. For travel, we practiced like two or three times a week. So it wasn’t every day, but it was still pretty often.”

One of the biggest take aways for Hlasnick, with playing with Niagara was the fact she got to play with a lot of good players. The team she was on was pretty stacked with hockey talent.

Multiple girls have gone on to play at the Division I level, while everyone on that team found a place to play at the collegiate level. That’s pretty insane to think about. If a team just had a few girls go on to play hockey they would be happy.

To have pretty much everyone suit up for a college hockey team is pretty remarkable.

“I was able to play with a lot of great girls,” stated Hlasnick. “Multiple girls went DI on my team, and everyone found somewhere to play at the collegiate level.”

Back on the ice, Hlasnick has been a model of constancy. As we stated earlier, Hlasnick goal scoring, and points, have gone up each season - since she has become a Red Dragon. She has shown the ability to be able to adapt to any situation that has been thrown at her.

Hlasnick has changed her mentality as her hockey career has evolved. The last couple of years Hlasnick has shot a little more than pass. She still has a lot of assist, but now she is making herself a force in front of the net.

“I’ve been scoring more this year, surprisingly,” stated Hlasnick. “I’ve been shooting more than passing. I know last year, I tend to defer and makes plays happen, rather than just taking the easy shot. You have to make simple plays, so I have just been getting pucks on net, and having some fall.”

Off the ice, Hlasnick is killing it in the classroom. Last year, she was named a Krampade AHCA All-American Scholar and to the Div. III Women's At-Large Academic All-District team. The business economics major knows that hockey won’t be there forever.

Hockey has given her every opportunity to play the game she loves, and get a great education. But, at the end of the day, when hockey is over, Hlasnick knows her education will help her get where she wants to be.

“I’ve been a teachers assistant for multiple classes. I’m tutoring this semester. I just enjoy being involved with my professors and showing up to class. The biggest part is just going, and once you are there, you are going to be eager to learn. Keeping busy in the classroom, and also with hockey, it’s a good balance.”

Hlasnick’s hockey career is coming to and end. She doesn’t like to think about. She remembers the first time she laced up her skates, and it will be a bitter sweet moment the last time those skates get laced.

But, there are no regrets. Hlasnick was able to play hockey at the highest level, and she made a lot of friends a long the way.

“Everyone always says enjoy it, it will be over before you know it, And, you don’t think that time will over come,” stated Hlasnick. “It’s crazy and sad, but I am happy for all the friends that I made, and the memories that I made. I have no regrets at all with all the time I spent playing hockey. It was so much fun.”

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