Taylor Leech of the University of Maine women's hockey team is pictured during a 2020 game. Credit: Courtesy of Mark Tutuny

The University of Maine women’s ice hockey team has reached the Hockey East semifinals each of the past two seasons after advancing with quarterfinal road wins.

Ninth-year head coach Richard Reichanbach said this is the “deepest team” he has had at UMaine and that the group could do a lot of damage in the league.

“We’re pushing for a Hockey East championship. We have great leadership,” he said.

The team is preparing to open its season at Quinnipiac on Friday and Saturday after going 8-9-1 during last year’s abbreviated season and never playing a home game due to pandemic restrictions.

Reichenbach acknowledged that defending four-time champ Northeastern will be the favorite but he said “everything else is pretty wide open.”

Besides being a strong team physically, the team is diverse with players from seven different countries.

“It’s a lot of fun. You get to hear different stories about what life is like in their countries. I think our diversity makes us even more connected,” said Taylor Leech, a fifth-year senior defenseman from Bowdoinham and second-year captain.

She added that everyone brings a different style of play and different fashion choices to the table.

In addition to having players from the United States and Canada, this year’s team also has players from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary and Switzerland.

Two of the Europeans played in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Canada recently: Swiss sophomore left wing Rahel Enzler and Hungarian freshman right wing Mira Seregely.

Leech feels this team has potential to be the best she has played on during her five-year career.

“It is definitely a deeper team than we’ve had in the past and everyone is super hard-working,” Leech said.

Reichenbach said his team will have more scoring options this season and won’t have to rely on just one or two lines to do all the scoring.

Headlining the forwards is former U.S. College Hockey Online All-Rookie team right wing Ida Kuoppala, who was a third team All-Hockey East Team and All-Rookie team two years ago.

The Finnish junior has 29 career goals in just 51 games along with 19 assists. She led the team in scoring last season with 10 goals and five assists in 16 games.

She will start the season on a line with senior center Ali Beltz, who has 10 goals and 24 assists over her last two seasons (55 games) and Dartmouth College transfer Jen Costa.

Enzler, the team’s second-leading scorer last season with three goals and six assists in 17 games, and Seregely will flank junior Morgan Trimper (3 assists in 18 games) from Bangor on the second line.

Reichenbach said Trimper “may be the best-conditioned athlete I have ever coached.”

Reichenbach expects some offensive production from his third line of juniors Ally Johnson (2 goals, 2 assists) and Celine Tedenby (2 & 4) along with speedy freshman Alyssa Wruble. Versatile graduate student Maddie Giordano, who leads the team in career games played with 105 — five more than Leech — will also see duty on the third line.

Juniors Ally Trimper, Morgan’s twin sister, and converted defenseman Amalie Andersen (2 assists) will be on the fourth line with sophomore Morgan Sadler, who scored twice a year ago. Katelyn Arman, a sophomore, will also be in the fourth-line mix.

Liga Miljone, who has 31 points over the past two seasons, will miss the season due to a series of concussions.

The backbone of the team is graduate student Loryn Porter, who was a finalist for National Goalie of the Year last season when she posted a very impressive 1.49 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

Reichenbach considers Porter and Northeastern’s Aerin Frankel as the two best goalies in the league.

“With Loryn back there, we can be more aggressive on the forecheck,” Reichenbach said.

The defense corps has a nice blend of point-producers and reliable defensemen.

Smooth-skating Elise Morphy emerged as one of the top freshman defensemen in the league. She will be paired with senior Ida Press, who has scored eight goals over the past two seasons. Morphy had 1 & 5 last year and Press had 1 & 4.

Leech, who has 17 points (2 & 15) the last two years, and 6-foot junior Nicole Pateman will be a tandem that is “strong, aggressive and very good defensively,” Reichenbach said.

Junior Ella MacLean (0 & 3) and sophomore Kennedy Little will be the third tandem with sophomore Olivia King, who played at Old Town High School and had a goal last year, also in the picture. Freshmen Courtney Colarullo and Bailey Oakes will be capable fill-ins who will improve with experience.

Jorden Mattison and Anna LaRose will be Porter’s back-ups.