The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team started off low this season, 2-9-1, but the Black Bears have endured amid the struggles, and sophomore forward Connor Leen has emerged as one of the team’s more consistent players.
Leen credits a lot of people for helping him get this far in his hockey career and relishes in the team aspect of the game.
“I really like that hockey is a team sport and is competitive, especially at this level. I just love the game,” he said. “I played other sports when I was younger, but [I] always pretty much knew it was going to be hockey.”
“My grandfather got me on skates, and my parents did a lot for the traveling, and they always bought me the newest, greatest equipment,” Leen said.
Leen saw action in 22 games last season, scoring one goal against Boston College. This season he has three goals and two assists in the 12 games played so far.
“We got off to kind of a rough start, but I think it’s because a lot of us guys are young. But every game we’re getting more and more experience,” he said.
Leen scored his first goal of the season against Providence College back in October, notched another one against Boston College and has been hot as of late. He’s been one of the brighter spots on the season so far but remains focused on the team and the game despite his recent success.
“It’s a team sport. We all need to put in our part each game, and I think the individual success comes along with team success,” Leen said.
He scored points in back-to-back games against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and netted a goal in the latter of the two games, which ended in a 4-3 UMaine victory.
“Our win against [the University of Massachusetts-Lowell] was really big, so I think from here on out it’s hopefully going to be an upslope of wins,” Leen said.
The latest game from the Black Bears ended in a 2-2 tie with the University of Massachusetts at Alfond Arena. “As a team, we just need to stick to our systems. That’s the biggest thing,” Leen said.
Leen’s looking to better himself and is trying to make a contribution however he can.
“I need to be better in the defensive zone,” Leen said. “I also need to get my plus-minus up and contribute more on offense.”
Upcoming games for Leen and the rest of the Black Bears men’s hockey team are at home against the University of Vermont, Friday Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.