Taylors’ time

How the experience of seniors Taylor House and Taylor Girard have helped the growth of the program

Jordan Wolff, Staff Writer

Appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness are words often used when coaches are asked what a senior has meant to their program. When it comes to Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey senior forwards Taylor House and Taylor Girard, “leaving their mark” is the phrase that came to mind.

The person who used that remark is assistant head coach Amanda Alessi. Alessi is now in her fifth season at Quinnipiac and has seen the rise and growth of both seniors. But the long lasting-impact they’ll have on the program is something she’ll always remember.

“TG (Girard) has shown what true power, strength and speed can do,” Alessi said. “For players who have her build, they can aspire to be like her. As for Housey (House), she’s really shown how you can grow from your freshman to senior season in all aspects of your game.”

Before discussing House and Girard’s impact on the 2020-21 season, it’s important to understand how they arrived at Quinnipiac. Their stories are quite different, but the end destination is what remains the same.

House grew up in Joliet, Illinois — 30 miles away from Chicago. She was surrounded by deep-dish pizza places and the famous Wrigley Stadium, where the Chicago Cubs play. So now you may ask how does one from Illinois find Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut?

Senior forward Taylor Girard celebrates with her teammates during 11-0 win over LIU on Jan. 17. (Courtesy of QU Athletics)

House met a former member of the coaching staff as a freshman in high school and was then able to visit the campus during a tournament she was playing in Connecticut. As they say, the rest is history.

“The campus, the facilities and the coaching staff were just all so nice,” House said. “I knew, once I looked here it was probably where I was going to end up and just comparing it to anywhere else I looked, nothing compared.”

As for Girard, she grew up in Macomb, Michigan, where she decided to attend Lindenwood University in Missouri. Girard spent two seasons at Lindenwood before deciding it was time for a change. A big factor in her decision was her desire to play on a more national stage, as Lindenwood plays in the College Hockey America conference, whereas Quinnipiac plays in the ECAC Hockey.

Once again, you may ask how did someone from Michigan decide that Quinnipiac was the right place for them? Sometimes in life, when one knows a place feels like home, it doesn’t matter where the place is located.

“The atmosphere felt right, it felt at home,” Girard said. “I don’t know how else to explain it, but everything just felt right.”

In House’s first season (2017-18), she had four goals and three assists. However, the Bobcats finished 16-17-3 overall with a 12-9-1 record in ECAC Hockey play. In her sophomore season, House’s production climbed to a total of 15 points, breaking down to nine goals and six assists. The Bobcats finished 12-18-6 with a 9-9-4 record in ECAC Hockey play.

The trend here is that House took the next step forward, but something else was missing from a team perspective. Sometimes, it can come down to a philosophy in style of play or sometimes it can be the leading voice in the locker room reaching its peak. In this case, as soon as Girard arrived, things changed.

Girard produced a six-game point streak in 2019-20 and finished the season with 17 points, 11 assists and six goals. House produced another 15-point season, with nine goals and six assists. The Bobcats as a team took a significant step forward, as they finished 20-14-3 overall and 11-9-2 in ECAC Hockey play.

Another key aspect in hockey is the linemates you play with. Sometimes, you don’t connect with the people you play with due to personality, likability or lack of chemistry. In the NHL, you had the Boston Bruins’ first line be coined the “perfection line” due to how instrumental wingers David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron’s chemistry played into recent success.

From House’s perspective, putting her together with Girard and junior forward Lexi Adjzia starting last season was a brilliant move.

“There was just something between me, her (Girard) and Adjzia, I don’t know what it was, but it just clicked,” House said. “Now she’s my roommate and we’ve become really close off the ice and we’ve spent so much time together, that we’ve just bonded.”

House cited how the duo have similar personalities. They are loose on the ice, they like to have fun and their actions do the talking.

The duo’s senior season has been one unlike any other. The 2019-20 season ended on March 1, 2020, when the Bobcats lost game three of the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals to conference foe Princeton 3-2 in double overtime.

After that, the tandem expected business as usual — to be back on the ice the following November to start their final chapter together. Then the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week of spring break, Quinnipiac sent its students home and told them not to return.

The ECAC Hockey then made an announcement the following month that the annual ECAC Hockey tournament would be canceled. Soon after, the NCAA announced its tournament would be canceled. So House and Girard were stuck at home, doing virtual workouts.

As it was getting closer to the usual start of the season, nobody knew what the deal would be with this season. Lucky enough for Quinnipiac, it played its first game on Dec. 13, 2020, against Sacred Heart, winning 6-1.

The Bobcats have continued their season throughout the ongoing pandemic, currently being 7-3 overall and 2-3 in ECAC Hockey play. With four games left to play, this can be considered Taylors’ time to shine.