October 21, 2018
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UMaine hockey defenseman skating out of NHL father’s shadow, forging own identity

ORONO, Maine — Stephane Matteau will always be remembered fondly by New York Rangers fans for his heroics during the 1993-94 season — the last time the organization won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup.

He scored two overtime goals in the Rangers’ Eastern Conference finals series against New Jersey, including the series-clinching wraparound goal in the second overtime of Game 7.

His daughter, 18-year-old Alyson Matteau, is carving out a hockey career for herself at the University of Maine.

The gritty, 5-foot-10 defenseman scored six goals and had six assists while playing in all 35 games last season despite dealing with back issues. She was third on the team in points and goals and had a team-high 64 penalty minutes.

“She’s physical and she can play at both ends of the ice. She brings an offensive dimension and she is a good defender. She deserved all of her accolades,” said University of Connecticut coach Chris MacKenzie.

Matteau was chosen to the Hockey East All-Rookie team.

She and her Black Bear teammates open the season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

“My parents never forced me to play,” said Matteau. “I grew up in California, and there wasn’t much girls hockey there. When we moved back to Canada, I started playing.”

Her father played for the San Jose Sharks during the first five years of her life. He retired in 2003 when she was 6.

Her older brother, Stefan Matteau, plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a famous father.

“He was on the road a lot, but when he was home, he was always very present,” said Alyson Matteau, a native of Mirabel, Quebec, who played at Northwood School in New York. “He was a very good influence. He taught me the Xs and Os. I always had a stick in my hand, running around the house.

“He was never too pushy. He was very respectful. If I needed help, he was obviously there for me,” added Matteau, who calls him for advice from time to time.

Stephane Matteau played in 848 NHL regular-season games and 109 playoff contests.

Alyson Matteau wants to create her own identity.

“Women’s hockey is very different than men’s hockey,” she said. “I’m doing what I can to leave my mark, not just follow in his shadow.”

She has already opened eyes.

“She was impactful, even as a freshman,” said Providence College women’s coach Bob Deraney. “She is a big, strong defenseman who influences a game. She’s aggressive. She is a difference-maker.”

“Her intensity and her willingness to compete is pretty special. It’s something we noticed from day one,” said UMaine head coach Richard Reichenbach. “She was on the Hockey East All-Rookie team, and she was injured the entire year. She was never 100 percent.”

Matteau has a very good shot and led the team with six power-play goals.

“I just liked to give her the puck and let her do her thing,” said Brooklyn Langlois, who was her defense partner for most of the season and is now an assistant coach at UMaine.

“Playing with her was awesome. She took instructions well and communicated well. She was great,” said Langlois.

Matteau was happy with her 2015-16 season but realizes there are a lot of areas in which she can improve. Her back is healthy again thanks to rehabilitation.

“I’m very excited. We have a good group of freshmen and upperclassmen,” said Matteau, who enjoys UMaine because there is a homey feeling and she “loves the coaches.”

“She is a huge part of our team. Very few players of her size have her strength and hockey sense. She’s a really smart hockey player. She is good at reading the breakout,” said Reichenbach. “She’s good on the penalty kill and the power play.”

 


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