There are times for hockey practice where Leah Landry will walk past a light shot. Landry wants the goalkeeper shot, and all she has to do is push the puck into the open to get a goal.
But it’s practice. Landry does not need this goal. She has to work on a shot that comes with a greater degree of difficulty, because she knows that in a big moment in a big fight, that easy shot will not be there.
That shot came early in the second period of the state championship game against Scarborough. When Red Storms excellent goalie, AJ Swett, left Landry small net to work with, the Lewiston High senior shot high over Swett’s glove for the first goal in a 3-0 Blue Devils victory.
“I like to challenge myself in practice. (Swett) had a really good glove. I was at that angle and that was the only shot I had. I had taken that picture before and it did not go in, ”Landry said.
This winter, the Lewiston striker combined his physical talent and high hockey IQ to collect 30 goals and 23 assists in 19 games. Landry’s hard work was rewarded with Lewiston’s second state title in a row (the Blue Devils also won]in 2020, and there was no state tournament in 2021), and she was honored with the Becky Schaffer Award, given annually to the best senior girls hockey player in the state.
After his dominant season, Landry is the hockey player of the year in Varsity Maine.
“She’s very versatile,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said of Landry. “At the start of training, I gave them 10 minutes before we went to work as a team, to talk to their teammates or skate around or whatever. She was always working on something.”
Scott Rousseau, head coach of Cheverus / Old Orchard Beach / Kennebunk / Windham, said Landry was a player opponents had to take into account at all times.
“If you did not base your entire game plan on stopping her, it would be a long night,” Rousseau said.
It wasn’t just that Landry scored a lot, it was that her goal came at the greatest moments, Rousseau said. In the state final, Landry scored the first goal and added an empty net to secure the victory with 1:25 left. In a 1-0 overtime win over Cheverus late in the regular season, Landry scored the only goal.
At 5-foot-8, Landry was bigger than many of her opponents, and she used her size and range to make room for herself, and also to annoy opponents when they had possession.
“Suddenly she sticks that stick and takes the puck away,” Dumont said.
Dumont said Landry’s ability to think was crucial to her success. When he taught the Blue Devils an exercise, Dumont could see Landry connect the dots and think ahead when what was being practiced would be important in a game.
“We would review options 1, 2 and 3, and she can break it down and tell me why she chose option 3. She sees the game really well,” Dumont said. “You have players who are pretty talented and they are what they are, but she makes the players around her better.”
During his four years, Landry grew into a leadership role. Dumont does not believe Landry said three words to him when she was a freshman. As a senior, Landry was loud and talked about the game with his coach and teammates.
“First year, I was more nervous. Obviously I was young and not ready to start taking responsibility,” Landry said. “As I got older, it was easier to become a natural leader.”
Landry, who is number six academically in her class, said she is still considering her college options and whether she wants to go to a school where she can play hockey.
“I’m still trying to figure out where I want to go,” she said.