Team Szabados forward Audra Richards (21) is congratulated after scoring a goal against Team Stecklein in the NWHL All-Star Hockey Game Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: Mark Humphrey | AP

Audra Richards started playing ice hockey while growing up in Minnesota.

Now, the former University of Maine player has the chance to continue her career in her home state at the professional level.

Richards has signed with the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women’s Hockey League.

“The NWHL is truly something special, and I am tremendously happy to be a part of it for another season,” Richards said. “Being able to play in my home state for the first time in seven years will be an incredible experience, knowing I will be with so many of my family members, friends, former and current teammates and opponents. It will also be amazing to see some of my students in the stands.”

The 5-foot-8 forward, who is a physical education teacher in grades K-4 at Moreland Elementary School and Somerset Elementary in West St. Paul, Minnesota, played last season with the NWHL team in Newark, New Jersey.

Last season, Richards scored a team-high 8 goals for the Metropolitan Riveters and was selected for the NWHL all-star game, during which she also scored a goal.

The 25-year-old Richards played at UMaine from 2012 to 2016, scoring 45 goals and adding 25 assists for 70 points in 132 games. She scored 15 goals as a sophomore and 14 as a senior, leading the Black Bears in goals and points in both seasons.

Prior to attending UMaine, Richards earned letters at Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minnesota, where she competed in hockey, soccer, and track and field.