Hockey player finds home with Valencia Flyers
(Originally published March 21, 2019)
(Photo by Cory Rubin, The Signal)
In Ukraine, he goes by “Danylo.” In Valencia, he’s “Daniel.” But no matter where Daniel Moroz is, there is always hockey.
Currently, he lives about 10 minutes from Ice Station Valencia, where he recently competed with the Valencia Flyers, a Junior A hockey team in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).
“I like it here,” Moroz said. “Like, it was really nice. The guys are good, the coach is great. The rink is pretty good. I like it here.”
Previously, he’s been around the world for hockey. He first learned to skate when he was four years old.
“(My parents) just took me to the ice rink and said you’ll play hockey,” Moroz said. “It wasn’t my decision.”
At 13 years old, he left his home city of Kiev to play hockey in Russia for two years, then went to Slovakia for another two years of hockey with HKM Zvolen U18, where he logged 23 goals and 37 assists in the 2016-17 season.
He competed for Ukraine in the IIHF World Junior Championships in the same year and scored two goals and recorded an assist.
But when his usual team in Slovakia folded, it was time for Moroz to find a new home. A friend who was playing in America heard of his predicament and encouraged a coach from Lake Tahoe to look into the 6-foot-2 Moroz.
“I said, why not? Let’s try it,” Moroz said.
(Photo by Mark Mauno of Moroz on 12/20/17 playing for the Tahoe Icemen)
He played a season with the Tahoe Icemen in the WSHL, accumulating 60 points (24 goals, 35 assists). The Icemen folded after Moroz’s first season with them, resulting in him joining the Flyers.
Moroz was a welcomed addition, according to coach Justin Dyke.
“He has a demanding presence on the ice,” Dyke said. “When he’s out there, that big body has a lot to do with it, he’s got a very long reach, so he’s got a great attitude, too, great work ethic. So all those things kind of play into where we got him to where he’s at.”
Moroz flourished with the Flyers. He was named an alternate captain and had his highest-scoring season to date, recording 107 points, a new record for the Valencia program.
He was flanked by Dominik Knap, a player from the Czech Republic, who tallied 87 points (29 goals, 58 assists) this season for the Flyers.
“We are best friends out and the same on the ice. So that’s why I get a lot of goals with him,” Moroz said.
“I think I am a team player who wants to pass and get the puck,” he said. “I like to play, I like to help my linemates. We’re really good together. I have good vision. I like to move the puck a lot.”
While competing and winning was a priority on Moroz’s agenda, he was also focused on getting faster on the ice. He spent plenty of time in the weight room and according to Dyke, was always the first one at practice and the last one to leave.
(Photo by Mark Mauno of Moroz on 12/20/18 playing for the Valencia Flyers)
“At normal practices and when we are playing, we’re trying to win,” he said. “That’s when we’re in practice or at the games. Always try and be first.”
Moroz has the long term goals of playing hockey for an American college and pursuing a professional career after that. He has two years left of college in Ukraine but wants to have an American education as well.
He leaves to go back to Kiev on Tuesday, March 26 and while he’s not sure if he’ll be “Danylo” or “Daniel” next season, he’s already left an impact on the Flyers program.
“He has this big, strong physique that could be intimidating to some, but he’s really a soft, shy guy who just really loves his family and his friends and will do anything for them,” Dyke said. “We have things that are in the hockey world, we call them ‘glue guys.’ He’s a glue guy. He’s a guy that keeps guys together.”