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PWHL Ottawa’s inaugural season leads to celebration of many firsts for players

Emerance Maschmeyer and wife Geneviève Lacasse are expecting their first child
Montreal’s Laura Stacey (7) and Kristin O’Neill (43) move in on Ottawa goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer during second period PWHL hockey action in Laval, Que., Sunday, March 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Like so many of her teammates, the inaugural season of the Professional Women’s Hockey League has held many firsts for Ottawa goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer.

She was one of the first three players to be signed to Ottawa’s roster. She was in goal for Ottawa’s first win. She was the first to have a gender reveal during practice.

Maschmeyer and her wife, former Team Canada goaltender Geneviève Lacasse, are expecting their first child at the end of August.

At the end of practice Wednesday, Emily Clark — donning a pink jersey — and captain Brianne Jenner — wearing blue — participated in an obstacle course. Teammates, divided between team blue and team pink, cheered on Clark and Jenner as they raced around cones, did 360s, and pushed and shoved one another before Jenner ultimately crossed the finish line.

Maschmeyer and Lacasse were thrilled to realize a baby boy is on the way.

Maschmeyer, a native of Bruderheim, Alta., said the idea for the reveal came during a conversation with her longtime friend Clark on a road trip.

“Clarkie and I were just brainstorming silly ideas on the bus,” said Maschmeyer. “My partner and I wanted it to be something around the rink and we thought this would be fun. We didn’t want to know the gender until that moment, and it was just so much fun.”

Clark admitted she’s a terrible liar and has a terrible poker face, so she didn’t want to know in advance whether the couple is having a boy or a girl. Jenner found out via email on Monday and she didn’t share the news with Clark until right before practice started.

“I didn’t want to give it away,” Clark said. “I was just so honoured to be a part of it.”

Clark and Maschmeyer first crossed paths in 2012 when the two won U18 gold together. In many ways they’ve climbed the ranks together, winning three more gold for Team Canada along the way, and were thrilled to realize they would be living their hockey dreams side by side in Ottawa.

“I feel like she’s such a huge part of my journey and a huge part of my story and hockey career,” Clark said. “I’m super grateful that we’ve got to go through every step together. She’s someone I lean on a ton whether it’s hockey or personal.”

While Clark and Maschmeyer had an existing bond, there’s no denying that going through the day-to-day rigours of a season creates a unique environment.

“The girls have become family,” Maschmeyer said. “Even when I just told the team that we were expecting I was mauled in a pile and they were so excited for us.”

Maschmeyer admitted she is the planner in the family and wants to have everything for the baby in place following the season’s conclusion, but for now her focus is on helping Ottawa win.

Ottawa (5-0-5-6) currently holds the fourth and final playoff spot but is tied with Boston (4-3-2-7) in points. The two face off Saturday in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena, making the three points up for grabs even more crucial.

Following Saturday, both teams will play two more games before a break in the schedule for the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championships.

Maschmeyer, with a 2.55 goals-against average, has carried the bulk of the workload for Ottawa this season, playing in all but one contest. Toronto’s Kristen Campbell is the only other goaltender to have played as many games.

Ottawa goaltending coach Pierre Groulx has been impressed with Maschmeyer and believes the best is yet to come.

“I think she’s still growing and not even close to her peak,” said Groulx. “She’s a veteran presence that’s still growing. She reads the game so well and 9.9 out of 10 (times) she’s in position. She’s a really big competitor, she wants to stop every puck.”

Clark said Maschmeyer’s presence provides stability and calmness.

“She’s so consistent, I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Clark. “Her energy, effort, attitude and play. On any given day you know exactly what you’re going to get from her and what you’re getting is one of the best goalies in the world, so we’re very lucky.”