Taylor Leech said she’s dreamed about playing ice hockey at the University of Maine ever since she was a little kid.
She has not only realized her dream, the junior defenseman from Bowdoinham will captain next year’s Black Bears team.
“It is a real honor and something I will take seriously throughout the season,” Leech said. “I told the team the other day that my goal next season was to have every one of them be able to lead in their own way.”
She is the second-straight in-state player selected as the captain, joining former Presque Isle standout goalie Jillian Flynn, who led this year’s team.
Leech, who played for North Yarmouth Academy and Hebron Academy before attending UMaine, enjoyed her best season during 2019-2020 with two goals and 12 assists in 34 games.
“Taylor is a success story of a player who grew up and stayed in Maine instead of going out of state to play prep school hockey,” UMaine head coach Richard Reichenbach said. “It means a lot to the youth players to see a player like Taylor have so much success on and off the ice and be in position to be our captain next year.”
UMaine had a roller-coaster season but finished strong, going 5-2-3 in its last 10 games. The Black Bears upset Boston University in a two-game quarterfinal sweep before losing to No. 3 Northeastern 3-1 in the semifinals.
UMaine finished at 15-14-8 overall, 9-11-7 in the conference, and its semifinal appearance was its second in three years. The team returns five of its top six scorers and all but one defenseman.
“Being more consistent will be our main focus,” said the 21-year-old Leech. “Right after we lost to Northeastern, we were already motivated for next season. We want to get to the championship game.”
UMaine had one of the most diverse teams in the nation, men or women, with players from eight different countries represented.
“It’s a lot of fun. I learned so much from them about their different cultures and backgrounds,” Leech said.