Maya Popova is a 9 year-old youth hockey player from Madison, NJ who is currently on a tear for the NJ Devils Youth Squirt Minor boy’s team and the U12 NJ Devils Youth girl’s team. Maya is a hybrid player, playing both forward and defense as needed for both teams. At her age it’s very impressive to be able to play both positions at such a high level.
Maya’s combined stats for both teams this season are 20 games played, 25 goals and 14 assists for 39 points. Maya’s high level of play can be attributed to her off-ice work ethic. Maya regularly attends off-ice training sessions at a local hockey specific training center where she works on her quick feet, explosiveness, as well as stick handling and shooting skills.
We asked her what her overall goals were for this season and she replied, “Be among the top contributors both on and off of the ice.”
Being a top-level player means understanding both your strengths and weaknesses. Her two greatest assets are her shot and edge work. She works with both a skating and hockey coach to help hone her skills in both of these areas. She’s continuing to work on her weaknesses by being a student of the game helping her hockey sense and assertiveness.
When asked what her toughest competition has been, she said “At the CCM Invite in Boston last year when we lost in the finals by a goal. That was the hardest game I have played in.”
Her favorite NWHL player Amanda Kessel is a role model of hers as well as the NJ Devils Travis Zajac. She tries to emulate both of these players on the ice which is how she’s able to move the puck and be an offensive threat like Kessel, but have the defense awareness and responsibility like a Zajac.
Smartly Maya and her family know that to be a good athlete, you must be a well-rounded one. When she is not playing hockey you can find her figure skating, playing soccer, lacrosse and tennis. In addition to sports she also enjoys singing and dancing.
Some fun facts about Maya:
- Her favorite movie is “The Greatest Showman”.
- Her favorite post hockey meal is Dinosaur BBQ, which consists of ribs, beans, French fries and corn bread!
- Her favorite school subject is writing.
attends the Kings Road school and while she is still years out from high school, she knows where she wants to go, perennial power-house, Shattuck Saint Mary in Faribault, Minnesota.
When it comes to colleges, even though she is years away, she knows what she wants. “I want to go to Harvard or Princeton University to play hockey and get a great education.”
We wish Maya the best of luck and will be following her as she progresses! If you’d like to follow Maya on her hockey journey, check out her Instagram @mayahockey
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