Mom-to-be Masch confident Ottawa can build on success vs red-hot TO

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The busiest goalie in the Professional Women’s Hockey League will be adding first-time motherhood duties to her schedule this summer, but while the more immediate task at hand is something no one else has done in more than a month, she has become a bit of an expert on the subject.

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The goalie is Ottawa’s Emerance Maschmeyer, who announced on social media this week that her and partner Genevieve Lacasse, a former world-class puckstopper now working in the PWHL front office, are expecting their first child in August.

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The task at hand for Maschmeyer is to beat Toronto at TD Place on Saturday (3:30 p.m.).

The matchup is an intriguing one.

Ottawa is fifth in the standings with 16 points and, on the heels of Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over New York, will be looking to win a second game in a row for the first time.

Toronto is in third place with 21 points and has reeled off six straight ‘W’s, outscoring opponents 20-8 over that stretch.

But before discounting the chances of what would surely be the sportsbook betting underdog, consider this:

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Ottawa has won both meetings with the provincial rivals this season, including a 5-1 victory in Toronto on Jan. 13 and a 3-1 win at TD Place 10 days later which represents the last time the team from the Big Smoke went down to defeat.

Maschmeyer has tended the pipes in both those games, stopping 53 of 55 shots.

“They’ve had a bit of a hot streak for sure, but we’ve had a lot of success against them,” Maschmeyer said after Friday’s practice. “So for us, that’s our sample. We know that we can beat them. We are confident. We take care of our game plan, and that doesn’t really change. We need to take care of and control what we can. We can’t control how they perform, but we’re confident in our game right now.”

The game plan always involves Maschmeyer, who has played in all 13 of Ottawa’s games today. She started 12 and came on in relief when Sandra Abstreiter was injured 17 and a half minutes into her debut against Boston.

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Only one other goalie – Toronto’s Kristen Campbell – has played in as many as 10 games. She sits second in the league in minutes played with 690:31, while Maschmeyer leads the way with 764:08 to go along with a 2.43 goals against average and .905 save percentage.

The in over New York included some brilliant work late in the game, when she also got some help with a last minute stop by defenceman Ashton Bell.

“The puck went off my toe right to the slot, and I ended up turning just in time to see Bellsie make the save,” recalled Maschmeyer. “I was like, ‘thank goodness’. That was one of those moments where you just have to hug your ‘D’.

Maschmeyer, meanwhile, is enjoying the heavy workload.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “The past couple of seasons, it’s been very inconsistent in terms of playing time, just because we haven’t had a league, and the showcases with the PWHPA were a little bit sporadic. And then it was just playing with the national team randomly throughout the season, so it’s been a lot of fun for me to just see that much rubber.

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“For me, it’s about being consistent and showing up for my team every day, giving kind of my 100 percent and whatever that looks like that day, I’ll make sure to do it.  I think that I’ve been showing up for my teammates consistently.”

While she says she has faith in the backups, coach Carla MacLeod is working Maschmeyer the way she thinks No. 1 goalies are supposed to be worked. Each game.

MacLead expects her starter will shine once again versus Toronto, which is led by Natalie Spooner, the league’s top scorer with 10 goals, and Sarah Nurse, the cousin of Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse.

Toronto has an exceptional core but not the depth of a team like Ottawa.

To hear MacLeod talk, Ottawa has done nothing out of the ordinary in holding an 8-2 combined game score against the foes from four hours down the 401.

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“There’s no secrets in the game,” said MacLeod. “We haven’t seen them in a while either here, so obviously, they’ve  they’ve stepped up their game and in a lot of ways,  as have we. It’s going to be another great tilt. (The last two against Toronto) were back and forth. They’re a high speed team. They’re speed centric. You can see how they play, They move the puck north quickly. Everyone’s going. They’re a good hockey team, and we’ll have to make sure we come out and play our best too. We just look forward to the opportunity.”

It has been a good week for the Ottawa team, with the victory over New York coming one day after Maschmeyer thrilled her teammates by announcing her and Lacasse were having a baby.

Their child will be the fourth in the PWHL Ottawa family, joining captain Brianne Jenner who has three kids with wife Hayleigh Cudmore.

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“My gosh, I watched the video that we took (when we told the team) and it is amazing, zooming in to all the faces,” said Maschmeyer. “Some are frozen, but they’re just so excited. Brianne has three adorable children, and on our last road trip she and her wife brought them along, and everyone kept asking me ‘when do you think you’ll have kids?’ I was thinking, stop asking me because I’m a really bad liar.

“It was it was really exciting to share with the squad and every day someone’s talking about it. We’ll have a lot of babysitters.”

ICE CHIPS: While Saturday’s game is sold out, so is Ottawa’s next home game, Mar. 23, which is also against Toronto …MacLeod was stressing the importance of shot-blocking during Friday’s practice, and then practiced what she was preaching with the firing tennis balls at her instead of pucks. “I wanted to show I can demo as well,” she said. “Only one got in. I made about eight to 10 saves. There was that classic skate blade save, you know. New technique. It’ll catch on.”

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