University of Maine first-year men’s hockey coach Ben Barr and his staff aren’t wasting any time building their program.
Six-foot-four, 216-pound defenseman Liam Lesakowski from Buffalo, New York, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on a hockey scholarship.
Lesakowski, who turns 18 on Dec. 12, will play for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the prestigious United States Hockey League this coming season.
He could join the UMaine program next fall or in 2023.
Lesakowski said UMaine was the first school to offer him a scholarship, and he chose the school because he feels Barr is going to turn the UMaine program around.
“I want to be part of it,” Lesakowski said, noting Barr played a major role in UMass’ ascendancy to NCAA champions this past season as the team’s associate head coach.
The 17-year-old is looking forward to playing in front of the loyal and energized fans at Alfond Arena.
“And with the [upcoming] renovations to Alfond Arena, it’s going to be even crazier in there,” Lesakowski said, citing the Harold Alfond Foundation’s $90 million gift to UMaine to upgrade its athletic facilities.
Lesakowski played for the Salisbury School in Connecticut this past season and had three goals and seven assists in 15 games. He also played for the Rochester Coalition 18-under AAA team and had eight goals and 24 assists in 32 games.
“Liam is a terrific defenseman,” Salisbury School coach Andrew Will said. “He’s long and has a terrific reach so he can defend the rush or shut down the cycle in the defensive zone. He also has real strong offensive instincts. He plays with his head up, moves the puck well and gets in on the rush. He’s also great at the offensive blue line.”
Will said Lesakowski is also a very coachable player.
“He’s a hard worker and has a pro mentality in terms of his determination, presence, intensity and focus. He is open to feedback because he wants to improve and enhance his game,” Will said. “He is going to fill out and get stronger.”
Will previously coached Barr when Will was an assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
Lesakowski is looking forward to playing for Cedar Rapids and said one of his major focuses will be on improving his speed and footwork.