On Monday, April 10, Jay Leach, the associate head coach of the UMaine men’s hockey team, resigned from his position. Leach has been coaching collegiate hockey teams for over twenty-four years.
“Everything changes,” Red Gendron, the head coach of the men’s hockey team, said. “I am delighted that he will have time to spend with family and friends. The demands of coaching in college haven’t been easy. The coaching staff has to be scouting, recruiting, signing players, coaching the players, and helping the players develop. The tempo is really high.”
Leach has had decades of experience in coaching. “He is a terrific coach,” Gendron began, “he helped recruit and coach some of the teams that really put Maine hockey on the map at Division 1 level in the late 1980’s.”
Leach’s coaching career began in 1983, as an assistant coach at Merrimack College. After a year, he became the associate head coach at UMaine, where he spent four seasons and helped bring the team to the NCAA Final Four in 1988, according to his profile on the UMaine athletics site.
“I’m surprised,” Eric Schurhamer, a fourth-year on the hockey team, said. “I had always thought that he would stick around a little while longer. At the same time, he has been coaching for so long. He has given this game and this program so much.”
“It is sad to see a coach step down and retire. He will be missed, he is very well-liked and well-respected. Coach Leach was great to me over my four years. He’s been around the game forever and has so much knowledge and experience,” Blaine Byron, another fourth-year on the team, said.
Leach will be missed by many, including Gendron. The two have been working together for over thirty years. “We go way back,” Gendron said, “He has a great relationship with the players, and he is a tremendous recruiter and a tremendous teacher. He makes everybody that he comes in contact with feel good, and he has done a great job as a coach.”
In terms of the future, Gendron remains optimistic. As always, the team’s goal is to make it to championships. “We have some terrific players in the program,” he said, “And another class coming in that will be outstanding. I am very excited about the talent level and the future.”
Leach will be remembered for being dedicated and devoted to his players. “I can remember a skills session where me and Coach Leach stayed out on the ice for twenty minutes after it was done and just talked about the ins and outs of hockey, while he shared his endless knowledge of the game with me,” Schurhamer said.
“All we can do is hope for the best,” Byron said. “I feel very fortunate and happy to have spent four years with a great coach. He (Leach) was a great influence on me.”
While there has not been any official statement made regarding who will be replacing Coach Leach, many speculate that Alfie Michaud, the volunteer goal-tending coach, will fill the position. Michaud has been coaching the team since March 2016.