Women’s Hockey: Leah Lum’s success goes behind her impressive statistics

The UConn Huskies faced off against the Providence Friars in the Freitas Ice Forum on  Saturday, Feb. 3. After tailing for the first period, the Huskies bring the game to a tie. The Huskies win 3-2 in overtime.

100 career points. Tied for second all-time in program history for assists (58). Two-time Hockey East Player of the Week. 2016-2017 team MVP. Those are just some of the accolades that Senior Alternate Captain Leah Lum has received in her four years on the UConn women’s hockey team. However, her most valuable contribution that she has made to her teammates is her high energy and infectious personality.

Lum made the decision to leave home, (very far from home) to play hockey for the Huskies. She was born and raised in Richmond, British Columbia (on the border of Washington), about a 47-hour drive to her new home in Connecticut. Lum coped by face timing her parents and maintaining a busy schedule, while forming a strong bond with fellow international senior Annie Belanger.

Belanger said they were randomly placed in the same international orientation group. The first day, they spent time crying over being so far away from home.

“(Lum) is really close with her family and we have bonded over it,” Belanger said of the two relating to being home sick. “She’s done a great job of not letting that effect her too much and staying focused. Many of us have bonded over it.”

The way that Lum has been able to impact her team the most is with her positivity on and off the ice.

“Leah is someone who always comes happy to the rink,” Belanger said. “She is just always in a good mood and her energy is always up. Leah leads by example with that energy.”

UConn head coach Chris MacKenzie said that Lum’s impact on the team will extend for many years to come.

“(Lum) has been a valuable piece for our team. She was our MVP last year and has had a great career,” MacKenzie said. “Her teammates really look up to her and she’s really brought a lot to our team. Would I recruit her again? Absolutely. Would I want her on this team every year? Absolutely. She is high energy, has brought a high standard of play and has helped our program build.”

Despite the Huskies, finishing 13-12-9 and clinching a playoff spot as the seventh seed, there was a stretch from Nov. 4 – Dec. 31 when the Huskies did not win a game. Several teammates and coaches said the one constant was the positivity, led by Lum.

“She’s just a great personality and she wants to play games and have fun everyday. Each day she comes to the rink smiling,” MacKenzie said. “Even when there were times where maybe she was frustrated, she still found a way to smile and help her teammates.”

As for what Lum hopes to do after graduating, she said she hopes to continue her hockey career before she works for a professional organization doing game day events.

“I am hoping to continue my hockey career over in China with one of the two new teams that have recently joined the CWHL this season,” Lum said. “In the future I hope to put my sport management degree to work and would like to be a coach someday either for high school or college.”

MacKenzie said her plan makes complete sense to him.

“I could see her bonding with players and making it a fun environment,” MacKenzie said of Lum’s potential coaching career. “I’d like to see her take her playing career as long as she can and try to coach afterwards. She is built for that.”

The Huskies finished the regular season on a high note this past weekend, sweeping Merrimack for a spot in the playoffs. Lum’s talent and glee were on full display, as she led the celebration on the ice after clinching a playoff berth and netting a third period goal for her 100th career point Saturday as her parents watched from the stands.

It was as if her UConn career came full circle, but Lum is not satisfied with personal milestones. Lum said that she is focused on going deep in the playoffs and hoisting a Hockey East Championship Trophy to put the cap on what has been a remarkable career.

Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.logan@uconn.edu.