At 28 years old, being able to commute to work and travel 52 minutes and take I87 north to work everyday didn’t sound to bad to former Union College product Jeff Taylor when approached about it this summer by head coach Pete MacArthur.
“It’s weird, I was actually talking to my wife, it’s weird getting ready for a game in our apartment in Troy, it’s a weird, but good feeling, happy to be here”.
Taylor is one of the five veterans on this year’s Adirondack Thunder and with six years in the American Hockey League with the likes of the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins and Hartford Wolfpack, the Albany, NY native thinks that the six years he spent in the AAA of professional hockey he can now give back to those just breaking into the ECHL and head coach Pete MacArthur agrees with Taylor being named one of two Alternate Captains this season.
“100% chance it stays on for every game we play this season”.
Taylor added to MacArthur’s comments saying that “It felt good, It’s a honor, it’s always an honor being apart of the leadership in professional hockey, especially Adirondack with all their hockey history, it truly was an honor, i’m definitely of a more lead by example guy, i’m not much of a ra-ra-ra guy, just more of a guy who is going to the right thing and hopefully the guys follow”.
Taylor began his hockey journey 52 miles away from the Cool Insuring Arena playing prep hockey for the Albany Academy Cadets playing former Thunder players Conor Riley and Nick Devito. Taylor within the two full years with USHS-Prep, lit up and dominated with 73 points in 62 games allowing him to have a new challenge presented to him playing the USHL, which many players who trying to turn professional hockey make their first turn there or try to get an eye on many D1 schools, for Taylor the fairytale dream came true after his lone year in the USHL it was his hometown college D1 Union College who took a chance on the 6’0 defenseman. In his freshman year he was a National Champion.
“A lot of the older guys on that team like Shayne (Gostisbehere) really led the way there on their day-to-day (routines), how they went through things and that’s probably what I learned the most”.
When asked if those two influence your career, Taylor responded with one word “Absolutely”.
“Those guys were pro’s in college, they just the right thing on and off the ice, all the time, it was a great learning experience”.
Playing along the likes of NHL defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, AHL veteran Mike Vecchione and some names that Adirondack Thunder faithful may know in Daniel Ciampini, (Brampton Beast), Ryan Walker (Adirondack Thunder) Conor Riley (Adirondack Thunder), Alex Sakellaropoulos (Adirondack Thunder), along NHL Draft picks Spencer Foo (Las Vegas Golden Knights), Nick DeSimone (Calgary Flames), let’s forget about current Thunder forward Sebastian Vidmar included in their too.
Like many athletes, Taylor completed his four years at Union College walking away a National Champion, being named twice on the ECAC All-Star Team and with 94 points in 149 games he was hopeful to live out his dream of playing professional hockey and that time came in 2014 NHL Draft where the Clifton Park, NY native was selected 7th Round, #214 overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After six years of being away from home it was time for Taylor to bring his talents to an Adirondack who struggled defensively last year and it has been no secret that MacArthur has stated that the team needed to get better in that department.
“It’s an awesome experience to have a great opportunity with a pro team basically in my backyard and Pete reached out, I have a family now, the fans are great here, I’ve played a couple of times here being apart of the Maine organization, the fans are always great here”.
Taylor was the first player announced that Pete had brought in to start his stamp on the Thunder organization.
“It’s Pete’s passion (for the game and the way he wants to play) on what drove me here to sign in Adirondack, he wants to play fast hockey, offensive and defensive, he wants to win, I bought into right away”.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on the backend here that know how to move the puck and play defense here, we’ve got some big bodies back there too, we’ve got a really solid, d-core, really solid, exciting to see what’s to come in the season”.