Gameday+ | Meet a Buckeye: Emma Maltais, women's hockey
Sport: Women’s hockey
Hometown: Burlington, Ontario
Major: Health sciences
Question: It takes approximately one second on your Twitter feed to realize you’re a big-time Maple Leafs fan. On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your passion for them?
Answer: I absolutely love to follow the Leafs. They’re a young team that’s fun to watch, so when I see news on Twitter I retweet it. I would rate my zeal probably around an 8, just because I don’t get to watch them a lot, being at school.
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Q: Who’s your favorite Leafs player, past or present?
A: Mitch Marner is an amazing 200-foot player. I love watching Auston Matthews rip the puck, but there is something about Marner’s play that makes him fun to watch. My mom, my aunt and I all love Mitch Marner.
Q: How deep do these feelings go in your family? Parents? Grandparents? Approximately what percent of your family members are Leafs fans?
A: It’s actually a funny dynamic. My dad is a French Canadian from a small town about four hours north of Quebec City. He grew up cheering for the Montreal Canadiens with his family (my grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins, etc.). My mom grew up a Flyers fan because her all-time favorite player was Bobby Clarke, even though she lived just outside of Toronto almost her whole life. My brother, Matthew, is four years older than me and has always been a Leafs fan, knowing every statistic and every player. I copied him, and now my mom cheers for them as well. My dad, remaining a Canadiens fan, means the house has some tension on Saturday nights when both teams play.
Q: How do you explain how a team with so much history and money hasn’t made a Stanley Cup finals (let alone won one) since 1967?
A: Ha-ha. I honestly cannot really explain it. But now they are a young team with a great mentality that surely has a chance to win. I think the Stanley Cup is something so hard to get to because hockey is so unpredictable.
Q: How did you feel about the Raptors winning the NBA title last summer? Was it weird in any way, as a Leafs fan, or were you able to separate the two sports?
A: It was one of the coolest things ever to see the Raptors win the title. I was almost sad that I wasn’t in town for the celebration. I watched them win the final game, and I was so happy because the pride of Toronto showed. It was in no way bittersweet.
Q: Your hometown, Burlington, is on the far western edge of Lake Ontario; does that mean it avoids big, lake-effect snowfalls?
A: Our downtown is right on the water and is beautiful. We do get a large snowfall, some years bigger than others. I would say the snowfall at home is more than it is in Ohio, but it surely reaches temperatures here that are cold if not colder than back home.
Q: Growing up, did you play much pond or lake hockey in Burlington?
A: I did play some pond hockey back home. The most outdoor hockey I played, though, was beside my house on my driveway. We do not have a garage, so my dad would make the driveway into an ice rink and my brother and I and our friends would always play on it. When I got bigger, I started to find ponds to play on.
Q: Ohio State gets to play an outdoor game this year, in January at Minnesota. Are you looking forward to that?
A: With all the Minnesotans on my team, including a lot of my closest friends, we’re all excited to be playing on Hockey Day in Minnesota. It has been super cool to learn about what hockey in Minnesota is all about, and it will almost be a dream come true for a lot of them. My dad might make the trip to watch, as well.
Q: You’ve had an incredibly successful first two years at OSU; are you eyeing the career scoring record, or is that too far off?
A: My biggest goal is for my team to get to the Frozen Four again. I hope to stay consistent with points, as I take a lot of pride in being a consistent, 200-foot player for my team. At the end of the day, that will take care of itself.
Q: What’s your personality on the ice? Are you more Brad Marchand or Lady Byng?
A: This is a funny question. I think because I am smaller than the average player, I have to be a little chippy. Also, our team identity, with speed and hard-working, means we’re going to annoy our opponent. When the game is done, it’s important to take time to respect the opponent. But in the game, I’m surely a little chippy and do whatever it takes to win. Therefore, I would be more like Marchand — although certainly not to the extent he is.
Q: Do you take more pride in blocking a slap shot or scoring a sweet goal?
A: For me, the difference between these two isn’t much. I think it would depend on the moment of the game. For example, if we’re down by one with two minutes to go, I think scoring would be exciting. But if we’re up one with two minutes to go, blocking a shot would be my choice. I love the way my team goes crazy for things like blocking shots. One of my teammates, Rebecca Freiburger, blocks so many shots that it fires me up.
Q: How much have you gotten to play for Canada in the past few years?
A: I’ve had the opportunity to play for the under-18 and under-22 national teams for the past five years. This year I will participate in the November Series with the senior national team, which I am very excited for!
Q: Is it your goal to make the Canadian Olympic team so that you may experience the feeling of getting a silver medal for finishing runner-up to the Americans?
A: Being part of the Hockey Canada program is all about pushing each other to get better so that the team chosen is ready to take the gold medal back to Canada at the Olympics. The Americans are a tough and talented group, but if we keep working hard as a program it can be done.
Q: Seriously, how fun is it to play high-stakes games against the U.S.?
A: It is almost surreal. Every time I pull on the Canada jersey is a feeling like no other. Games against the U.S. are so intense, and it is such a battle to win those games. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.
Q: Let’s talk about your other future, outside of hockey: Where did you intern this past summer, and what did you do?
A: I was an intern at the Stanley D. and Joan H. Ross Center for Brain Health and Performance. I got to shadow all aspects of health care, from surgery to outpatient care to nursing to PT, etc. I also got to help with research at the center and attend a lot of professional meetings.
Q: What got you so interested in brain health?
A: It wasn’t exactly my No. 1 interest. I had the opportunity to explore my options in the health field with this internship, and it really allowed me to understand what I want to do. I think seeing the neurological field was extremely interesting, and I did not realize the impact the brain has on so much of our daily lives.
Q: What’s your ultimate goal with your major?
A: I want to go to graduate school to be a physical therapist and hope to one day work in a hospital in inpatient care.
Q: Slap-shot finish: Do you go to practice or practise?
Q: Who has been your biggest influence in hockey?
A: My parents have been so supportive throughout my career — my dad getting up at 5 a.m. to take me to practice or my mom going to almost every high school and club-hockey competition. I really want to make them proud. My brother was also a huge reason I started playing hockey. He is who made me competitive; him asking me to race clearly established my hatred for losing at an early age.
Q: What has been your most embarrassing moment on the ice?
A: Probably the first time I celebrated when I scored a goal. It was with my boys hockey team and I scored against our biggest rival. I went down on one knee to do a big showboat and fell right on my face. This was the last time I ever showboated.
Q: What’s your favorite all-time pet?
A: I had a guinea pig named Cookie. She lived for seven years and was a great pet. This is the only pet I have ever had!