Tomas Mazura who was noted at the Flood Marr Tournament for his smooth hands and athleticism with towering size has committed to Providence College. He is currently playing at Kimball Union Academy and set to join the Friar line-up for the 2020-2021 season.
Originally from Pardubice, Czech Republic, he tells us about how he got into the sport, “My dad brought me to the rink for the first time when I was 4 years old, I’ve loved hockey ever since. I had always rollerbladed on the street with my friends. I also walked around the house with a hockey stick and a puck, which did not make my mom happy because I have destroyed a lot of furniture.” Taking us through what his youth hockey experience was like, “So in the Czech Republic, everyone plays club hockey. I played for the HC Dynamo Pardubice youth teams until 6th grade and then I transferred to Hradec Kralove until my first U16 year. After that, I returned to my hometown for a year and then left for Kimball Union. Once I returned to my hometown for my second U16 year, we had a new coach who did not count on me at first. As a small player, I had to work to earn his trust and ended the season on the top line with our team going on a successful playoff run.”
Three years ago Tomas decided to leave his home country and go to school at a prep school in New Hampshire, “So I arrived on campus as a 5’11”, 145 lbs freshman with no idea what to expect. I met coach Whitehead at a hockey camp and he recruited me. He saw me play about 3 games so he did not totally know what to expect from me, but he told me about the option of repeating a grade that would give me an extra year. I played JV my freshman year with coach Whitehead’s son, Zach. We had a lot of fun, got a lot of ice-time and got a chance to play creative hockey where the score does not matter. My second year, I had a strong fall and played 4th line on the Varsity team for the first 7 games where [my] line scored 5 goals. By that time, I was 6’2”, 165 lbs. I struggled in battles, but I was on a different level compared to my 9th grade year. In the first shift of the 7th game, I got hit from behind after walking around a d-man and I broke my collar bone. I needed two surgeries and did not play hockey for 8 months. This past summer, I worked very hard to get back and gained another 20 lbs. Now I’m 6’4”, 185 and I am more of an impact player where I can win battles.”
Not only did Tomas have his Varsity spot to fight for but he had to battle a serious injury. We asked him what he did to come back even stronger than before, “It was very hard to get back to my usual shape and then even to gain muscles after I lost all my upper body strength. I work with Dusan Macak back home, who is a great strength coach and a former kickboxer. We work out 3 days in a row, and then I get a day off. This cycle repeats the whole summer. I also skate with players playing in the NHL, AHL, Major Junior and some of my friends who play for the Czech National Team. Our coaches at Kimball Union have really taught me the importance of the off-ice training. As a late bloomer, it was tough to gain weight at first and it still is, however the hard work I’ve put in has certainly been paying off for me so far this year.”
Telling us about his recruitment process, “I met Mr. Mayotte, the Providence Associate Head Coach at Flood Marr. The whole coaching staff came to see me in different games and liked the way I played and my potential. We scheduled a visit and then when my parents came after Christmas. I have talked to and sent my transcripts to some other ECAC and Hockey East schools, but I had to narrow my visits down to Providence and Saint Lawrence, because my parents were only around for 5 days. I want to thank the St. Lawrence coaching staff for their generosity and their interest in me.”
Finally, making his decision to go to Providence, “Since the moment I stepped on campus at Providence, I was amazed. I watched their practice, then looked at the athletic facilities and academic buildings. I also got to talk to the people in the Admissions office and I loved every single part of their campus. It is not a very large school, which is perfect for me, but it is also in a city and easy for my parents to get into. I had a strong connection from the start with their coaching staff and their goals matched mine. They are very straightforward and I think their results say a lot. I strongly believe it is the best place for me to develop and I want to thank them again for giving me this opportunity.”
Tomas still has a full season before he could play NCAA hockey, we asked how he will prepare for the transition. “I am still a junior at Kimball Union so I am planning on returning here for my senior year. I am hoping to play some junior games next fall and spring to get me ready. I am going to continue working hard and I hope to reach 195-200 lbs for next year to get me ready for college. I am a player who can think at a high pace so I believe I could be ready but if not, I will play a year of juniors.”
Elaborating on his decision to play prep hockey in America, “As I mentioned earlier, it was mostly a hockey decision. My Dad has always wanted me to play college hockey and prep school was a great opportunity and path for us to reach that goal. When you live somewhere for the majority of your life and then all of a sudden you have to leave everything behind, it is not easy. I am really thankful for my parents for being able to make sacrifices and sending me to KUA because looking back at it, it’s been by far the best thing that has happened to me.”
He tells us about the challenges he faced, “I have never lived by myself before so leaving home at 15 was hard. I knew English pretty well when I came to KUA, but reading and writing essays in a different language was a difficulty. Boarding school has taught me how to take care of myself and learn how to figure out different life situations where your parents are not always standing behind you. I have made friendships that will last forever with other students, teachers and coaches. My story is unique and it shows that nothing is ever going to come easy, but working hard and staying patient will certainly pay off.”
Tomas has 27 points in 18 games this season with KUA, 7 goals and 20 assists.
Photo Credit: Hickling Images/ Dan Hickling