Maternick's mid-season breakout provides confidence boost, lift for Griffins ahead of series vs. MRU

Maternick's mid-season breakout provides confidence boost, lift for Griffins ahead of series vs. MRU

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Accustomed to scoring piles of goals throughout her high school years in Winnipeg, Ella Maternick was certainly a bit frustrated to be held off the scoresheet for the first five weekends of her rookie Canada West women's hockey season.

But after breaking through with her first U SPORTS goal on Nov. 10, helping MacEwan beat Trinity Western 4-1, Maternick added another one the next night, and is currently riding a two-game goal streak.

"The first couple months, I was a bit frustrated," she said. "Coming off a hot season in AAA, it was 'why am I not doing the same thing here?'

"Again, it's an adjustment. But, especially after this weekend, I'm a lot more confident. I'm really excited to see what comes for me."

Maternick leads the Griffins into a home-and-home series against Mount Royal University on Friday in Calgary (7 p.m.) and Saturday in Edmonton (5 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, both Canada West TV).


The 5-foot-3 forward is accustomed to tons of minutes on the ice, playing for both the U18AAA Winnipeg Ice and for her high school Glenlawn Collegiate. She was third in scoring on the Ice last season with 19 goals and 40 points in 50 regular season games, while simultaneously finishing second on Glenlawn in scoring with 13 goals and 16 points in 15 games.

When she was in Grade 11, Maternick was named MVP of the entire high school league after leading that loop in scoring with 33 goals and 48 points in 17 games.

"In Grade 9, I made the high school team," she explained. "At that time, I was playing defence, so high school really helped me develop my offensive game. In Grade 10, I made AAA and that was my first year playing forward. High school really helped me translate goal scoring and getting to the net. It really helped me out."

Somehow, she was able to play for both teams – her regular schedule was high school hockey practice immediately after classes ended at 3 p.m. before she quickly hopped in a car to get to another rink for AAA practice, starting at 5 p.m. When anything conflicted, the AAA team took priority.

It was certainly an intense schedule that helped prepare her for the rigours of university hockey.

"Definitely the skating and the cardio," she said of the biggest benefits to so much time on the ice. "Here, it's a lot of skating and it's really fast. It helps you stay committed to the process. It reminds you that you have to work hard."

Ella Maternick brings tons of speed to the Griffins' lineup (Joel Kingston photo).

Her skating – honed after years of prioritizing edge work, first learning from her father and later with Winnipeg-based Evolution Hockey – has been noticeable with the Griffins, too.

"She's got an engine on her that doesn't stop," said MacEwan head coach Chris Leeming. "To be honest, we've asked her to slow it down a little bit. She has that explosive skating ability where she can actually take opportunities when they're there, but she was almost getting ahead of the play at times. 

"It comes back to having a little bit more patience and poise with puck support and working to be an option for her teammates. That's been a benefit for her, for sure."

That's allowed her to be in the right place to feed off what her linemates are doing – a key on her first Canada West goal, scored on a partial breakaway off a pass from Makenna Schuttler, who won a board battle and chipped it to her. Her Nov. 11 goal was from going to the net, jumping on a puck shot from the point and sniping it past Trinity Western goalie Mabel Maltais.

"She's got great speed, got a nose for the net," said Leeming. "For her team last year in Winnipeg, she had a great net-front presence and that's kind of how she scored (last weekend). 

"Stepping into this next level here, she had to make some adjustments; there's always a learning curve. But she's getting back to her game and focusing on the things that allow her to be successful."

Leeming is back with the Griffins after spending last week in Fort St. John, B.C. as head coach of Team Alberta at the national U18 championship where he guided his squad to a fourth-place finish. 

"It was an awesome experience," he said. "We played some great defensive hockey; we just needed a few more goals for at the end of the day. I really thought that the team connected well with some of the team building activities we did – getting to know each other away from the rink really helped us excel."

That's a key takeaway he will bring back to the Griffins, as well.

"I think it just ties into our cultural focus that we've had all year – just finding ways to connect as people," he said. "When we have strong relationships, our standards are going to be high, and to hold one another accountable to those things. That was how I felt we did well as a group (with Team Alberta) because the girls bought into everything that we threw at them and asked them to do. I think that was a product of the relationship building that we were able to achieve in a short time."