Megan Bozek intends to keep her hockey dream alive
Canada is home now for Megan Bozek.
It makes sense, since hockey is king there and Bozek is all about hockey.
The Buffalo Grove native has been all about hockey since she first started skating at age 2.
She's played in college, in national competitions, and professionally overseas.
But when Bozek, a defender, has something really important to train for, she comes home, to the suburbs, to her comfort zone, and to her home rink in Vernon Hills.
"It's what I do to get ready for big tournaments," Bozek said.
The 30-year-old Bozek, a 2009 Stevenson graduate, will be training at Glacier Ice Arena to prepare for the 2021 World Championships later this year, and she's trying to prepare herself for the U.S. Olympic Trials as well.
The Olympic trials are in June and the World Championship, which was supposed to be played this week in Canada, has been rescheduled for August.
Bozek was named to the World Championship team in April, her fourth stint on the team.
She's hoping to get back into loop with the Olympic team. She made the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, and won silver, but missed the cut in 2018.
"Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't and it was hard (in 2018)," Bozek said. "I'd like to get back in it. I just have this love for hockey and this whole thing (playing national team hockey) has been a dream come true. It's been a fun journey, and I want to keep it going."
Bozek's journey began while tagging along with her older brothers, Stephen and Dan.
They both played hockey and she wanted to do what they were doing.
Bozek played on her first team with boys when she was 6 and by eighth grade, she was on an all-girls travel team.
At the University of Minnesota, Bozek helped the Golden Gophers win back-to-back national championships during her junior and senior years. Her senior year, Minnesota put together a perfect 41-0 undefeated season.
"That was really exciting and I just wanted to keep going with it," Bozek said of her hockey success.
Bozek pushed her way into the national team pool, played in overseas leagues, including in Russia, her most recent stop, and has become active in promoting the idea of a women's professional hockey league in the United States.
The Professional Women's Hockey Players Association is a league of 125 players mostly based in Canada aimed to advance a viable professional women's ice hockey league in North America.
Bozek has played for the PWHPA team in Toronto, which prompted her move to Canada.
"I really want to try to grow the game here in the United States and help future generations of players," Bozek said. "There have been a lot of ups and downs for women in pro sports, but we are trying to get a league going that is sustainable with living wages and that maybe has the backing of the NHL, kind of like how the NBA backs the WNBA.
"I think it's going well, but it's a work in progress."
Bozek, for as much as she has accomplished in hockey, sees herself in much of the same way.
"This year has been frustrating at times because we've had so many delays and cancellations (due to COVID), but that's made me even more excited to get going again," Bozek said. "I just want to put my best foot forward and do my best. I'm still trying to get better."