Amy Stech grew up in Duluth, Minn., admiring players who played for the United States Olympic Women’s hockey team.
Last month, she realized a dream by playing against them.
The University of Maine senior left wing and captain was chosen to represent Maine on a Hockey East All-Star team that dropped a 4-0 decision to the U.S. Olympians in front of 1,805 at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.
The Olympians outshot the Hockey East All-Stars 43-7.
Stech played right wing on a line with Boston University’s Melissa Anderson and Jenelle Kohanchuk.
“It was an honor being the only one from Maine,” said Stech. “It was unbelievable playing against girls on the U.S. team I grew up watching. It was fun to be out there. The crowd was great.”
The Hockey East All-Stars were coached by Boston College coach Katie King, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1998.
“It was a fast game. They’ve got a very good team. I wish we had a week of practice. We might have been able to give them a run for their money,” said Stech. “We only had a 45-minute practice the night before.”
Were the Olympians as good as she thought they were going to be?
“I feel bad saying no. I heard they had a really hard week of practice and they didn’t have their legs. The shots were 43-7 but they didn’t tic-tac-toe the puck around us like I thought they were going to. We gave them a good challenge here and there when we got the puck out of our zone,” said Stech.
Stech also enjoyed the camaraderie she shared with her Hockey East mates.
“It was fun to meet some of the players in Hockey East you never thought you’d be friendly with. It was a great bunch of girls. It was really fun. I’ll never forget [the whole experience],” she said.
There were a pair of U.S. Olympic team defensemen with ties to Maine.
Caitlin Cahow, who won a bronze medal in the 2006 OIympics, has a family home in Vinalhaven and her father, Joe Adams, is from Rockland. Cahow was an All-American at Harvard University. Cahow grew up in Connecticut but spent a lot of time during her summers in Vinalhaven.
And former University of New Hampshire All-American Kacey Bellamy is the sister of former University of Maine winger Rob Bellamy.
Friars coach impressed by Maine
Providence College men’s hockey coach Tim Army hasn’t been surprised by the University of Maine’s start.
The Black Bears are 8-7-1 overall, 6-4-1 in Hockey East after sweeping the Friars by identical 3-1 scores last weekend.
“In September, I said I thought they’d be a real good team,” said Army. “They played a good [Hockey East quarterfinal] series against BU last year and they’ve built off that.
“They’re a more confident team this year and they all seem to be very much on the same page,” said Army. “They’re committed to one another and their team game.
“They have some talented players, they have improved their speed, they move the puck well and they still work hard,” added Army. “Scott Darling is a very good goalie who has improved his consistency. They have secondary scoring this year [in addition to the top line of Tanner House between Brian Flynn and Gustav Nyquist].”
He also noted that the secondary scoring lines are sound defensively so they aren’t giving up many goals against them while producing offense themselves.
Army called leading scorer Nyquist a great player.
“He’s very opportunistic, very quick and very dangerous,” said Army. “As an opposing coach, I hate to see him out there. As a hockey purist, I love watching him play.”
Maine will play its final game before the Christmas break on Saturday night when the Black Bears host Northeastern University at 7.
Northeastern, coached by former Maine interim head coach and assistant coach Grreg Cronin, is 6-7-1 and 4-6-1, respectively.
Maine and Northeastern split in Boston on Nov. 13-14 with Maine winning the opener 6-2 and Northeastern taking the second game 5-2.