MONTREAL - Emerance Maschmeyer will be able to count on an old friend on the Canadiens to help her set up shop in Montreal.
Acquired by Les Canadiennes de Montreal from the Calgary Inferno on August 15, the 22-year-old goalie will be officially arriving in the city in early September, a few weeks ahead of the start of the Canadian Women's Hockey League season. This will mark the second time that hockey has uprooted her from her home province of Alberta, after Maschmeyer headed south of the border to play college puck at Harvard University from 2012 to 2016 before joining the CWHL last year.
Maschmeyer is looking forward to playing for Les Canadiennes instead of against them for a change, as the Montreal squad had the Inferno's number on two notable occasions in 2016-17: first, the historic showdown between the two clubs at the Bell Centre in December, and then in the Clarkson Cup final in Ottawa back in March.
"It's a little weird thinking about that moment when we lost to Les Canadiennes in the final. I was obviously not very happy, but I'll be switching jerseys now. I'll figure out a way to make it feel normal," joked Maschmeyer, who led the CWHL last season with a 1.49 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. "I'm excited for it.
"When we played the game at the Bell Centre last year, that was my very first visit to town. I know we came up on the losing side, but it was a very intense game," continued Maschmeyer, who only allowed a single puck slip by her on 32 shots in Calgary's 1-0 loss. "I'll always remember the energy in the Bell Centre, it was pretty legendary to play in that rink. The Canadiens played after us and I stayed for their game. I remember looking at Carey Price and thinking, 'I was just in his crease.' It was pretty awesome."
Emerance and her father, Arlan, got to take in that Habs game - a decisive 10-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche - thanks to some personal connections at the Bell Centre. Brendan Gallagher, a longtime family friend of the Maschmeyers, was more than happy to invite the pair to watch him ply his trade that night.
"I'd probably say I was around eight or 10 years old when I first met them," recalled Gallagher, who was born in Edmonton and lived there until moving to British Columbia when he was 12. "I grew up playing with her two brothers, Brock and Bronson. We played together on the Northern Alberta All-Stars and her dad, Arlan, was our summer hockey coach.
"In the summer, we were always looking for ice and they lived in a town called Bruderheim, AB. There's not much going on over there, but they had a rink," continued the Habs' assistant captain. "We'd go there and play and we'd always need a goalie, so Emerance would come out and play with us. She was tough to score on."
Almost three years Gallagher's junior, Emerance held her own quite well against the older snipers. As for who had the edge back in the day, neither is conclusive when it comes to the final goals for/against tally.
"We might both have different answers, but I'll say it was 50/50. He's a pretty good player," cracked Maschmeyer. "But even he can't score all the time."
"I don't know, I can't remember all the way back," added Gallagher with a laugh. "I remember she was very good and tough to score on. Even at a young age, she was very talented."
The families grew close over the years, with Arlan even having an impact on Gallagher's journey to the NHL. Gallagher's relentless work ethic as a pro was born during his days playing minor hockey.
"What I remember about Brendan growing up was that he was always working really hard," said Maschmeyer. "His dad was a hockey guy and he was always pushing Brendan, and he loved it. Every time I would watch Brendan play, it looked like he was having so much fun, even though he was working so hard."
The two old friends haven't had a chance to reconnect since the trade brought Maschmeyer to Montreal, but Gallagher says he would be glad to show her around her new hockey home.
"I always like to check in on people I know. It will be a little bit easier since she'll be in Montreal. I'll definitely hear a lot more about how she's doing and how the team is doing. I know they already had a pretty good team and I'm sure her being there will add to that. Their goal is the same as ours, and it's to win a championship. It's pretty cool that she'll be playing in Montreal," concluded Gallagher. "I'm sure she's really going to enjoy her time here."