Feb. 7, 2010
By Larry Watts
Whether it's on the ice or in the sky, Mallory Deluce loves to fly.
"I've wanted to be a pilot since I was about 3 or 4," says Deluce, who is a junior forward on the University of Wisconsin women's hockey team. "I've been around planes all my life. My grandfather, my father and all my uncles fly. One of my uncles started Porter Airlines (in Toronto) and my brother (Justin, 26) is a commercial pilot for Porter."
Deluce is in the midst of acquiring her pilot's licenses, but the process has been slowed a bit by her academics and ice time while with the Badgers. Since enrolling at Wisconsin, the London, Ontario native has remained in Madison each summer to take classes and work out with members of the hockey team.
"I only get home for about a month in mid-May. I've got all my ground school hours in, but it has really hurt my flying time," she says. "I still have to do a solo flight, but I'll focus on that once school is done. I want to get my licenses in both private and commercial because I might want to fly commercially some day.
"My father has a Cessna 414 (twin engine) and a little 172 for when I'm practicing. It would be better for me to get my license for the 414 so I can go over the lakes. Right now, with a single engine, I have to fly around the lakes."
Her interest in flying hasn't gone unnoticed by her teammates.
"They like to joke with me and tell me they feel safer on our charter flights because I'm in the back," she laughs. "Those planes are pretty big though. We took one of my teammates, who lived near us, home one time and had Subway (sandwiches) and orange juice. We told her she was the flight attendant.
"I really love the challenge of flying. You're always thinking with all the instruments and it's not like anything else. It's so cool to see everything from the airplane."
Deluce is currently working on a degree in communication arts. She plans on working with her father in real estate after she graduates.
"I think this course of study really helps me in interacting and communicating with different people," she says.
But any plans Deluce may have for the outside world will have to take a backseat to her hockey. The 5-foot-7 blonde was just selected to play for the third time (along with Wisconsin teammate Carolyne Prevost) on Canada's National Women's Under-22 squad to play in the 2010 MLP Cup, which was held in Ravensburg, Germany in early January. Her team took the silver last year and the gold in 2008, when it was then called the Air Canada Cup.
"It means a lot to represent my country, putting that jersey on and playing other nations," she says. "A lot of countries send their senior (Olympic) teams. This means I'll miss our (Wisconsin's) game with the U.S. National Team and the series with North Dakota, which I don't like, but it's a real honor to play for your country."
Like many Canadians, Deluce says she was drawn to the United States because of the scholarship opportunity and the level of play.
"The level of hockey is very high at the collegiate level in the States," she says. "I had some Ivy schools that wanted me, but they don't offer scholarships, so I narrowed it down to Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"Madison just reminded me so much of my hometown. The cities are about the same size and we also have a university (Western Ontario) in London. This was just the perfect fit with the facilities, coaches and my teammates."
One thing that has amazed her is the school spirit. "I've never seen an atmosphere like the one we have around here on football weekends," she says. "Even at the high schools around here, football is so popular. We might have 50 people, mostly parents, at our games back home. People don't believe me back home until I start showing them the pictures."
At Wisconsin, Deluce has been a big part of back-to-back trips to the title game of the Frozen Four. As a freshman, she accumulated 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) during the Badgers' runner-up finish. During last's year's championship run, she collected 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists). But she also saw her penalty time increase from eight minutes to 49, second-highest on the team.
"I don't know how that happened; it's always the other girl's fault," she says sheepishly. "I like to be the first one in on a forecheck. There may have been a couple of times when I was a little too aggressive. It's got to be the karate background because I don't shy away from anything."
Deluce trained in karate until she earned her black belt at the age of 13. But that was when she saw her future was in hockey.
"Karate had been my favorite sport, but it got to the point it was too hard to do both," she says. "Going to karate twice a week and then to some tournaments started to interfere with my hockey practice too much. Karate was good exercise and I really enjoyed the sparring and tournaments.
"I think the karate has helped me a lot with the balance and strength I need for hockey. When I go into corners, I don't get pushed over too often."
Wisconsin a bit past the halfway point of its schedule with a 14-9-3 record. Currently she is second on the team in scoring, having scored 11 goals and contributed nine assists.
"I think we're doing pretty well," says Deluce of the young Badgers. "I feel like we're getting better and more used to each other. We still have series left with Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth and those games are always highlighted on my calendar."
Deluce's play for Canada in the MLP Cup could be the stepping stone to an even bigger stage.
"It's always the dream of a female hockey player in Canada to play in the Olympics," she says. "It would be awesome to get that opportunity.
"It will be three more years before they start narrowing down the team for the next Olympics (2014 in Sochi, Russia). Our current Canadian team has a lot of older players, more than the U.S. has, and I keep hearing there will be a big turnover. I'll be 23 when the tryouts start, so, hopefully, there might be an opening for me."