by: Michael Schuman
The game of hockey runs deep in the Matteau family, as Maine first-year defenseman Alyson Matteau looks to add to the family legacy while playing at Maine. She is one of three hockey players in her family, her father Stéphane Matteau played in the NHL and older brother Stefan Matteau currently plays for the New Jersey Devils.
Stephane Matteau won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers back in 1993-94 season, scoring the game winning goal in Game Seven of the series versus his son’s current team, the New Jersey Devils.
Having a father with that kind of hockey resume, Alyson Matteau and her brother were raised around hockey, having stick and puck in their hands by the time they could walk. Alyson Matteau took up the game at age three.
“It encouraged me to play hockey…it’s fun to have people around who know what they are talking about. It’s still my dad, it’s still my brother, but it’s interesting to have that around,” Alyson Matteau said on having her father and brother playing in the NHL.
This influence was important to Alyson Matteau, and while her father was often on the road traveling with his team, she still feels he was a big part of her life.
“My dad was my best friend, even now. I look up to him so much,” Alyson Matteau said, “I just thought it was a normal thing. Whenever he was there, he was present. He was always there for my brother and I growing up.”
The influence of both her father and brother got her on the ice at an early age, and into some very elite leagues as a young player. At the age of 12, Alyson Matteau was playing on her Quebec National team, a team that she played on until the age of 16.
“They’re the top players in my age group, so that definitely helped with my confidence coming [to Maine],” she said of her U18 experience.
Alyson Matteau, now 17, is a starting defenseman for the Black Bears, the youngest member of the team. Despite being the “baby” of the group, the nurturing family mentality of the program will help her grow as a player.
“In my head, I don’t even consider myself as 17, I’ve always thought of myself as older,” Alyson Matteau said. “Hanging out with older people, I’ve been treated like I was older so it’s cool to be the little baby on the team…it’s cool to be able to grow here.”
The family experience is both theoretical and literal, as the team is coached by the husband and wife tandem Richard and Sara Reichenbach. They also have a young daughter who spends much of her time at the rink with the players.
“[With the coaches] There’s a time to be serious and there’s a time that you can talk about anything at all,” Alyson Matteau said. “I’ve been with some coaches that your shared to talk to. You don’t see them with the kids or get to talk to them like you do here. We’re all pretty close too…it’s like a big family.”
Despite her age, Alyson Matteau has played with intensity and skill beyond her years, and her main goal is just to remain consistent throughout the year.
“I want to keep my consistency throughout the year; on the ice, in practice, nutrition, all of the little things and be an impact player for sure. Forget about my age and all that, try to be confident and do what I can do and not try to do too much.”
Alyson Matteau tallied her first career goal on Friday night versus Brown on a shot from the blue line. Her shot is one skill that she is particularly proud of, and enjoys talking shots on net.
Her defensive partner for that game, fellow first-year Cassidy Herman, also tallied her first goal of the season. Both Alyson Matteau and Herman are members of a very talented, seven player first-year class.
“We don’t feel like we’re new, we just feel like it’s one family,” Alyson Matteau said on their transition to the team.
As the Black Bears progress through the season, Alyson Matteau and company will undoubtedly learn the necessary skills to succeed on and off the ice. This is something she recognized and has employed in her life from a young age.
“The things you learn in hockey, you can apply that to things off the ice,” Alyson Matteau said. “There are thing my dad still does. You grow up in that environment of consistency and working hard. All the keys you need to be a good player.”
Alyson Matteau will continue her first campaign with the Black Bears when they take on Providence College on Oct. 23 at the Alfond.