Emerance Maschmeyer’s doing a little bit of everything these days, a little bit of everywhere.
After the disappointment of not being named to Canada’s Olympic centralization roster, the 23-year-old netminder is using this year to step away from the familiar and take advantage of new opportunities.
A trade to Montreal was the first item on the agenda. Instead of staying in Calgary, where she’d be surrounded by friends and teammates who were centralized, Maschmeyer opted to remove herself from that environment. The move materialized in early September, and it’s been paying off.
“I love it here,” she said. “I’ve been here now for I guess just under two months and it’s kind of what I expected. I only came here twice before this year, so it’s amazing. It kind of has a European feel a little bit, it’s a little different than the rest of Canada. I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying the team so far.”
But if the goal was to get away from Calgary, it didn’t quite play out as planned. Barely two weeks after arriving in Montreal, Maschmeyer was called in as an emergency back-up for Team Canada, dressing for three contests. Since then, she’s traveled back and forth a handful of times. She started an Esso Series match on Oct. 7 and was the third goaltender for the Canada-USA game on Oct. 22 in Quebec City, as well as during Canada’s preparation for the 4 Nations Cup in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
“It’s tough because obviously that was the team I wanted to make and always dreamed of making, so for me I wanted to step away and focus on myself and my hockey here,” she admitted. “Of course being called in, it’s always an honour to play and put on that jersey ― that always stems true. But it’s definitely difficult just knowing that whenever I get called in I’m still an alternate and I have to still remember that when I’m there, but still enjoy the moment.
“I know the girls well ― obviously I played with a lot of them in Calgary last year and have played with all of them over the past few years,” she added. “So every time I go in they’re super welcoming and excited to have me. It makes it a lot easier when I see all their faces, and it feels super normal being around there too. So it is tough, it’s tough to kind of leave my team here and go there, but it’s kind of the reality of my role this year.”
She’s also had to balance the frequent travel with the process of adjusting to a new team in Montreal. Being one of nine new faces joining Les Canadiennes this season has made the transition a little smoother, and the changing shape of the league in the Olympic year puts everyone in a similar position. So far, the uncertainty’s kept things interesting.
“[Other teams also have a] totally different roster, and so it’s kind of fun too. You don’t really know what to expect and I guess after a few weeks of playing we’ll start to know kind of each team’s identity, but it is a little fun and different.”
Going into her third month, Maschmeyer’s gained a clearer idea of where she stands in Montreal. In the crease, her goals for this season are simple.
“First and foremost I want to do everything I can to put my team in the best position to win the Clarkson Cup. Obviously I’m eager to win that, losing last year to Les Canadiennes. I’m excited and motivated to go for that. And then just try to out-do my play from last year. I think hopefully I’ll get a little bit more ice this year too, so just kind of soaking that all in and making sure I bring it each game.”
Outside of it, she’s jumped into a demanding but well-rounded schedule. She’s enrolled in classes through Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business, and has taken on a goalie coaching role with the Concordia Stingers.
“When I was debating whether or not to come to Montreal, I was in conversation with Julie Chu and Caro [Ouellette],” she explained. “They kind of brought it up that maybe they could use another goalie coach at Concordia. Kim St-Pierre is there too but it’s just kind of a part-time role, and she has a couple children so she’s very busy. They brought that up and when I made the decision to come out to Montreal, how could I turn down that opportunity? These legendary people are asking me to goalie coach their team, so it’s unbelievable. It’s been really fun, just a lot of fun doing that.”
St-Pierre and Maschmeyer each work one practice a week and rarely hit the ice together, but the pair keep in touch to make sure they’re working on the right things.
“It’s good because we kind of bring a different mentality and a little bit of a different style,” she offered. “Not too much different, but obviously she has a lot of experience and for me, I’m still playing and I kind of can bring that into my coaching. Things that I’m learning or trying to work on I can also bring to the girls and say ‘Hey, I’m doing this, you guys want to try it out? Let’s maybe see if this works’. For each goalie it’s a little bit different, too, and just trying to figure that out, it’s a lot of fun. It’s more of a conversation between us and the goalies and it’s been fun.”
Fun is a word that comes up often when she describes her role with the Stingers, and it’s clear that she’s been enjoying the process. Concordia’s team staff has grown under head coach Julie Chu, who took over on a permanent basis last season, and has taken on a distinct character compared to other schools. Five of the coaches are active players with Montreal in the CWHL, and Stingers players are regular fixtures at Canadiennes games.
“I think it’s always pretty easy as a player to obviously relate to your coaching staff if they’re still playing in the game,” said Maschmeyer. “For them, they can ask questions or they can come see us play, which is pretty cool. We’re all in the same city and we’re playing so anytime they have a weekend off and that, they can come and watch, and then maybe talk about our games. It’s a pretty cool dynamic, a little bit unique and different just because there’s so many of us that are just part time and we’re still playing hockey. But it’s good ― it’s kind of a good conversation, we can kind of go back and forth, and it’s kind of a learning experience for all of us too in a way. I think we do bring value in that way.”
It’s not just being an active player that makes things conversational. With the Stingers, Maschmeyer’s found herself in the interesting position of coaching players who are more or less her own age, for the first time in her career.
“It’s funny because I remember one of the first days, one of the players came up to me and was like, ‘So if you just graduated college like, just two years ago, how old are you?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, don’t ask me!’”
Because of Quebec’s CÉGEP system, players coming into university hockey in the province are often older than freshmen from elsewhere. Concordia’s rookie goaltender this year, for instance, was born in 1996.
“But it’s a lot of fun,” Maschmeyer added. “I’m pretty much the same age as the goalies, and some of the players I’m sure are even maybe my age or could be older. The line is still drawn between being a coach and being a player but at the same time, it makes for easy conversation and I feel like it makes me more approachable. They can kind of come to me ― I obviously just graduated not too long ago, so they can talk about school and kind of things outside of hockey too. I’m obviously not far removed from it so I try to give good advice, or I can relate to things that they’re going through, too.”
If it seems like Maschmeyer has a lot on her plate, that’s because she does. But, save perhaps the frequency of travel, it’s all by design. From playing to coaching to studying, she’s taking in as many new experiences as she can, and learning about herself in the process.
“The reason why I came out here was just to kind of get out of that bubble, and just take time for me to continue to develop as a hockey player but also as a person. I think that’s really… with adversity you do, you grow a lot, and you kind of see your true character come out.
“For me right now I’m coaching, and I’m taking classes too through Queen’s, and I’m playing, and kind of going back and forth. And it’s a lot, but I feel like I just want to take every day and just find things that make me happy, and continue to learn. And it's not just on the ice. I’m learning how to coach -- every single day you learn something new, you’re like ‘Okay, that didn’t work but I’m going to try this next time’. And with taking classes it’s just learning new knowledge. So I just want to take it one day at a time and continue to find things that I love, and keep going for it.”