It is rare to have a third-string player named a captain of a team.
It tells you that that player has unique leadership abilities and that they epitomize the team-first attitude.
Presque Isle native Jillian Flynn is the No. 3 goalie for the University of Maine women’s ice hockey team, having appeared in just four games over her three seasons, but she was recently named the captain of the 2019-20 Black Bear team.
“We’re very excited,” said UMaine head coach Richard Reichenbach. “The girls voted and she was pretty much a unanimous choice. She is a great role model.
“She has been a leader ever since she first stepped foot on campus,” he added. “She connects with everyone on the team.”
“Being on this team had been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid. To become the captain of this team was an unreachable goal in my head,” she added. “It’s amazing.”
Flynn said being named captain “says a lot about the team.
“What a selfless thing for them to do. With all the people who make such an impact on the ice, to recognize somebody who doesn’t play says a lot about them. It means so much to me that my teammates think that way about me,” Flynn said.
Reichenbach said Flynn has an exceptional work ethic and is “very intelligent.”
Flynn has always been a leader.
She captained her Presque Isle High School girls’ soccer and softball teams and was an alternate captain on the Presque Isle High School boys’ hockey team.
Flynn said despite her lack of playing time at UMaine, she felt “I had to make an impact in a different way. I fell into a leadership role. It’s just my personality. I’m positive and loud.”
The 21-year-old biology major, who would like to become a physician’s assistant, will have a tall task ahead of her.
She will be captaining a team that is coming off, in the words of Reichenbach, a “horribly disappointing season.”
UMaine, which had been picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll, missed the playoffs by finishing ninth with a 7-15-5 conference record. UMaine was 14-15-5 overall and ended the season on an eight-game winless streak (0-5-3).
UMaine was 19-14-5 in 2017-18 and finished third in the league with an 11-9-4 mark.
UMaine had gone 42-108-15 overall the previous five seasons.
The Black Bears also posted their first-ever playoff series win, topping Boston University in three games in the quarterfinals, before losing to eventual league champ Northeastern 2-1 in the semifinals.
“We lost the underdog mentality we’d always had,” explained Flynn. “We were still gritty and we still fought but we have to bring that underdog mentality back and we’re going to have to work hard for everything. We’re going to have to do every drill to the best of our ability. Hockey East isn’t getting any weaker. Everybody is getting stronger.”
She said the team is “extremely close-knit” and it is a “very good environment to be around.”
She also pointed out that there is no shortage of talent on the team — six players recently played for their national teams in World Championship tournaments — and they have a good corps of incoming players like the Trimper twins, Ally and Morgan, daughters of former University of Maine baseball coach Steve Trimper and wife Lisa.
“We obviously had a tough year. We have the talent (to be good). I’m going to encourage everybody to be a leader in their own way. I’m really looking forward to next season. I think we’re going to have a good run,” said the daughter of Presque Isle hockey coach Dr. Carl Flynn and wife Clarann.