Watching Alex Mozian skate past an opponent, deliver a perfect pass on the move, then aggressively crash the net, it’s hard to believe the Greenwich High School senior has undergone surgery three times in less than a year.
Yet that’s what Mozian, a forward/tri-captain on the Cardinals’ boys hockey team, has endured, but it hasn’t prevented him from playing and excelling in his favorite sport.
Countless hours of training and physical therapy, coupled with a whole lot of determination, has Mozian back on the ice in a big way scoring, seven goals in five games for Greenwich, which enters Saturday’s showdown against Darien with a record of 5-0.
“You miss being out there on the ice with your team so much,” said Mozian, who registered two goals and two assists in Greenwich’s win against Norwalk/McMahon on Monday night — already his third two-goal of the young season. “You get down on yourself when the injuries occur, but luckily, I had my family and friends supporting me. To be back and playing at a high level is surreal.”
Adversity first hit Mozian when he suffered an injury to his left leg on Dec. 19, 2016, in Greenwich’s second game of the season against St. Joseph.
“It was the second period, I was coming down the ice and I stopped to make a cut and the kid’s skate came right across my shin, completely severing my anterior tibula tendon,” he said.
Mozian underwent surgery at Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists in Greenwich to repair the tendon, then came four months of rehabilitation, training and watching his Cardinals team compete. The Cardinals advanced to the FCIAC title game last winter and qualified for the state tournament while Mozian, who was sidelined for the season, watched.
“It was very frustrating, because you’re seeing some games where I wish I could have been out there helping the team,” Mozian said. “It was definitely frustrating having to sit out.”
The Cardinals lost to Ridgefield in the FCIAC championship game and were defeated by New Canaan in the opening round of the CIAC Division I Tournament.
“We missed him, especially during the postseason last year,” GHS coach Chris Rurak said of Mozian. “Losing anybody of his caliber really hurt us, because we didn’t have as much depth last year. We also missed his leadership ability.”
After being in a cast for a month, Mozian was fitted for a walking boot, then continued his physical therapy.
“I did a lot of stretching and flexing work on my calf, then as I progressed I did half squats, full squats and tried to get the full range of motion back,” Mozian said.
Not being able to use his lower much, Mozian decided to strengthen his upper body.
“I never had the strongest upper body and shot, so I started working on it,” he said. “My shot became like a bullet, after working on it every day, while standing on my right leg.”
Cleared to play in mid-March, Mozian returned to action with the U16 Southern Stars — his split-season travel team — in April. The Milford-based team was competing in the national championships in Texas, an event for which Mozian was determined to get healthy.
The opening game of the national championships saw Mozian record a hat trick with one assist in his return. He registered two assists in the Stars’ second game of the tournament, then assisted on a goal in the first period of the third game. But then another setback occurred.
In the second period of his third game back, Mozian tore his left meniscus following a knee-on-knee collision with an opponent. He had surgery on his knee at ONS in Greenwich, then was sidelined another four months, causing him to miss a USA Hockey showcase and spring and summer hockey tournaments.
“It was a tough, painful therapy process,” said Mozian, who continued to work on his shot and upper body strength during his second injury. “But you have to push through and look to the future, keeping in mind what your goals are.”
Competing with the Southern Stars’ U-18 squad in September, Mozian fractured the scaphoid bone in his right wrist, after scoring two goals the previous two games. An opposing player bounced off Mozian and while falling to the ice, grabbed Mozian, who sustained the wrist injury when he landed.
A metal screw, which held the bone together, was inserted during the operation, to speed up the recovery time.
“After going through those two long leg injuries this was nothing for me,” Mozian said. “I saw that as a time to work on my leg strength. I tried to use the time I had to get as ready as I could for my senior season. I came back and we’re having a great season so far.”
Rurak is impressed with what he’s seen from Mozian over the team’s first five games.
“He is out for redemption,” Rurak said. “Sometimes when you are out with an injury you get a lot of time to think during the offseason and you go out and work even harder. In his case, he has come back even stronger. I’ve noticed a change in his skating a litle bit, he is more powerful.”
Mozian skates on a line with senior tri-captain JT Lawrence and junior Sean Pratley. The trio have given the team quite a spark thus far.
“Alex is one of the best players in the state,” Lawrence said. “His presence on the ice is felt by everyone on the team. You see No. 8 out there you know Alex Mozian is going to score a lot of goals and make plays. Being on his line this year is one of the most memorable things that’s happened to me at Greenwich High.”
Mozian, who aspires to play hockey at the collegiate level, preferably at a Division I school, may do a postgraduate year at a boarding school next year, before attending college. His older brother Mike also starred as a forward on the GHS hockey team.
“My whole life I have been trying to keep up with my brother,” Mozian said. “Playing with him as a sophomore was great, it was like magic on ice. We knew where each other was going to be. I’ll always remember that.”
Now back and healthy again, Mozian knows the Cardinals could accomplish plenty this season.
“It’s been great to see the team come together so nicely so far,” he said. “We are moving the puck well and playing good team hockey. Our team has the potential to win the FCIAC and state titles.”