On July 15th, the Whale announced they had signed their historic first ever overall Draft Pick, Taylor Girard

TAYLOR GIRARD: PART OF WHALE HISTORY BEFORE THE FIRST PUCK DROP


This year’s NWHL Draft on June 29th was a historic one for our Connecticut Whale. For the first time in Team history, we had the first overall selection. And with that Number One Pick, the Pod selected forward Taylor Girard from Quinnipiac University. With her signing on July 15, Taylor becomes the 15th player from the school to join the Pod. That is by far the most players from any school to play for the Whale. When we complimented Taylor for making history before even lacing up her skates for the Pod she responded " Really? Actually, I didn’t know that, that’s awesome, pretty cool.I’m excited! “ We asked Taylor a little about that special night, and she revealed

“I was actually working at a Premier Ice Prospects camp in New York. I’m from Michigan, and I traveled to New York just to work the camp. So the draft started at 7:00 PM , and the camp day ended around 6:00:PM. I was upstairs on the live stream for the announcement, and the TV was on in the lobby, So after the fact I came down and people were cheering, and everyone was really excited for me. It felt really. cool!

 Looking back a little further, we asked when Taylor started thinking about her hockey life after the NCAA. She told us

“When I was in high school, the NWHL wasn’t a thing. And when I was in college, at Lindenwood and Quinnipiac it was always like: I don’t want to just be done after my years in college. I wanted to continue playing. And then it kind of started to become a reality my fifth year. One of my friends is Abbie Ives, she plays for the Whale as you know. So I was chatting with her and it just seemed like a really fun thing to do. And I’m just really happy that I actually get the opportunity to continue playing after college, it’s great! Abbie Ives was actually my roommate, so I’m excited to play with her again.”

Cetacean Nation had to ask if Taylor ever referred to Abbie by her nickname,  Iverson!

“No, I always call her Abbie. But everyone else calls her Iverson. I think it was our strength coach that came up with that nickname. But I always just call her Abbie. And everyone’s like: Who’s Abbie?. And I’m like: Iiiives? she laughed  How about yourself we asked, as we had seen Taylor referred to as “TG”.  "Yeah, that was pretty much my nickname at Quinnipiac. TG or Teeg, everybody calls me that." 

So how is training going this season as compared to last we asked. She replied

“During the whole Covid year, we got shutdown quite a few times, between the men’s team getting Covid and the women’s team getting Covid. But me and my teammates would kind of just do at home workouts. We’d pick up some rocks and we would just do little things like that. Whatever we could find, we would use.But when games would get cancelled, that was extremely tough. But we had a lot of team Zooms, and we got through that. In regards to my offseason training currently, I actually skate once a week with some men’s D1 players, and some AHL, NHL players. And then I workout everyday, nothing too crazy.”

Taylor's charges at Premier Hockey Camp watching their coach become a pro on Draft Night!

Taylor grew up on Macomb, Michigan a suburb of Detroit. We asked her tell us how little Taylor got started in hockey there. She replied

“I guess I kind of followed in my brother’s footsteps. So like the first time I put skates on I was like two, two and a half. And my Dad would build a little ice rink in our backyard, and I would just do whatever my brother did. He would have friends over, and I would only be allowed to drop the puck. But dropping the puck was like the best time of my life! And then I just picked up a hockey stick and I started playing, that’s pretty much how it all started. Now if we played together, my brother would let me do a little more." she laughed.

She added “And when I switched over from boy’s hockey I played for Honeybaked until I graduated from high school. I also played basketball and tennis in high school too. I was a point guard in basketball, but I was the tallest player, so they had me jump center too. I wasn’t too bad! When I played basketball, the coach told me I had to pick either hockey or basketball, so I chose hockey. So then I got to play tennis in the spring which was nice. It was after hockey season so It worked out for me, that was kind of like my conditioning post season. One of my best friends in high school also played hockey with me for Honeybaked. We were just kind of sitting around, because we had both been told to choose basketball or hockey. And we both decided to,play hockey. Most of the high schools have freshman, JV and varsity basketball teams. So the freshman coach was also the varsity tennis coach, and he just came up to us and was like: Hey, do you guys want to play tennis? And we said sure, and we ended up doing really well. So now it’s like one of my favorite hobbies, it’s just so much fun!”

Taylor had a two part college career, beginning at Lindenwood University and ending obviously with Quinnipiac.. We asked her to tell us first about her time at Lindenwood, and sherevealed

“I actually committed to Lindenwood I think, at the end of my freshman year of high school. It was really way too early to commit. Honestly, the reason why I chose Lindenwood was just because it felt so homey, and I loved the small campus. Everybody was friends with everybody, and I don’t like walking down wherever, and you just don’t know people. Lindenwood was really cool in that way, that’s really a big reason why I chose them. I played center there my freshman year, then they switched me to left wing. And I’ve been a left wing ever since." 

She continued “My third year at Lindenwood I had to medical redshirt because I hurt my shoulder pretty bad, that’s why I only played like seven games that year. Then my first year at Quinnipiac I only got to play half a season, because I re-tore my shoulder. So I’ve kind of had some bad luck with injuries, my rotator and my labrum, got it all in there. But I did get a fifth year out of it..But, it was disappointing because that fifth year was effected by Covid, but what are you going to do? "she chuckled.

Taylor in action with the Lindenwood University Lions. Photo by Don Adams Jr

At Lindenwood, by her sophomore season, Taylor led the team in scoring and was a first team All-Conference selection? We asked if there was a favorite moment she recalled at Lindenwood, and she replied

“I think when we played MInnesota. It was either my sophomore or third year and we were tied with them for awhile. Because Lindenwood is such an underdog team, and we were playing one of the top schools, and we just really came out to,play, and we were having so much fun. We did finally end up losing, but it was the most fun we ever had, and we competed so hard. It was just a lot of fun! “

So the next question had to be, what factored into her decision to move on to Quinnipiac. She explained it this way:

"The short answer is, I wamted to be at a school and in a program that would develop me more as a hockey player. And I felt that Quinnipiac had better resources and just better facilities, strength coaches and what not, that could get me to the point I wanted to get to. So that’s really the main reason, I wanted something that would develop me more as a hockey player. It’s hard to leave the known to go to the unknown, but sometimes it works out in your favor.”

Taylor had an immediate impact with the Bobcats, quickly getting involved n the offense and running off a six game scoring streak. Her final campaign, truncated by Covid as she mentioned, saw Taylor continue her aggressive two way play, while scoring at a rate of a point per game. And when we asked about her favorite moment during all this at Quinnipiac, Taylor again chose a team memory over an individual one, telling us

“When we were in the playoffs against Princeton, we took them to overtime twice. We went into two overtime’s the one game, and three overtime’s on the other. We just battled so hard, and again, ut was so much fun just to be with everybody and share that.”

Taylor didn’t mention this, but we will. With less tha four minutes left in the deciding game in the Princeton series, it was her goal that started the Bobcats on a late rally to send the game into overtime. Fins Up to that!  

We wondered how Taylor’s major was effected, , switching from Lindenwood to Quinnipiac, and she explained

“So at Lindenwood my major was exercise science, which was geared more towards personnel training and showing people how to exercise the correct way. And then when I transferred to Quinnipiac, they didn’t have the same major. So I had to switch it up. I never had a real idea of what I wanted to do as a career. I knew Inwanted to bra in the health field so that’s kind of why I transferred into that program, Health Sciences. “

We wrapped things up with Taylor by asking her to describe her game a lottle for her new fans, the citizens of Cetacean Nation. She replied

“I think for a lot of my game I focus on my speed. I’m not the fanciest player it I try to use my speed when I can. I feel like I can see the ice well. I don’t really think about my size. I’m not like: We’ll, I’m taller than you, I’m going to get that puck. But I do have a longer reach, and I think I use my body to my advantage. I got into a little bit of trouble with penalties at Lindenwood, and in my first year at Quinnipiac but I definitely straightened myself out a little bit. I always would just get penalties for random things, like random tripping penalties. Also, I played on the power play at Lindenwood, and the power play at Quinnipiac, and the penalty kill at Lindenwood.”

We thank our Amazing #1 Draft Pick Taylor Girard for sharing some of her story with the fans. We are all looking forward to more history being made by her in Season Seven and beyond!

Taylor in action with the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Taylor is the 15th Quinnipiac player to play for the Pod as well. Photo courtesy of Liz Flynn.