Riveters’ Maclaine Talks Hockey Around the Globe, Finding Way to Metropolitan

by Matt Kass

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – It’s a distance of roughly 11,600 miles between Perth, Australia and Newark, NJ. But that distance is just one part of a journey that’s taken Metropolitan Riveters forward Nora Maclaine around the globe to play hockey, one that’s currently brought her to the tri-state area.

“It was honestly one of the if not the best experiences of my entire life,” Maclaine said in reference to her season overseas. “Getting the opportunity to not only go to a completely different continent, but to be able to play hockey for another year post-college was amazing.”

Maclaine played with the Perth Inferno of the Australian Women’s Ice hockey league during the 2019-2020 season, her first pro campaign after leaving college. While with the Inferno, she posted 23 points in 12 games, while also getting a chance to experience a whole new perspective on life.

For Maclaine, the opportunity to play in Australia was one she cherished, not only for the on-ice experiences, but also for the fact that she was able to visit different areas of the country, taking in the history and culture of the land down under, something she said was a “surreal experience.”

However, her ice hockey journey began years before her trip to Australia to play with the Inferno. Growing up in a family that was big on playing hockey, she followed both of her brothers into the sport at an early age. After playing multiple sports growing up, her path led her to the Boston Shamrocks, a youth hockey development club.

“The Boston Shamrocks was a really cool experience,” Maclaine said. “An all-year-round program, it was the first year that I stopped playing other sports during my junior year of high school.”

She added, “It was huge for me for that exposure and was ultimately the reason why I got to UConn, because I was doing all the recruiting tournaments and showcases, so it was really cool.” 

With her work in the Shamrocks, Maclaine was able to head to the Huskies, where she played four years at the collegiate level. When asked about the impact on her career of being a Husky, she said it was key to her becoming the player she is today.

“I think UConn really molded me as a player,” Maclaine said. “I had a very specific role in college, and my coaches at UConn really trusted me in that role that they gave me. I guess you could say I was an enforcer or grinder, whatever you want to call it”

Maclaine noted that being in an energy line role, she didn’t always pile up points, but felt that she was given a high degree of trust from her coaches to match up against the opposition’s best players, and to stop them from scoring.

While at UConn, Maclaine played alongside future Riveters teammate Teresa Knutson. The pair have become a dynamic duo on the roster for the Rivs, both putting up three points in six games played as a pair. Knutson has also assisted on both of Maclaine’s goals this season.

In addition to playing alongside Knutson, Maclaine has gotten to play against several former teammates, including Catherine Crawley of the Connecticut Whale, and Michela Cava and Elaine Chuli of the Toronto Six. “It’s really cool to see that I have some former teammates that I can look forward to playing against,” said Maclaine.

Following her time in college and with Perth, Maclaine was all set to finish up her professional career and move on from playing the sport.

“I finished my career, well I thought I did, in Australia. I kind of ended on a high note,” she said. “I was scoring goals [and] I was creating offense for myself. I was kind of on cloud nine and I was like ‘I think I’m gonna hang them up,’ and I got into coaching pretty much right after that when I moved back home during the pandemic, and then the opportunity presented itself.”

Maclaine saw the Riveters were holding open tryouts and laced up her skates again, eventually receiving a contract offer from the team. She said that having the year-long break in between playing for the Inferno and the Riveters has given her the chance to refocus and give her full effort.

"I honestly think I’m playing some of my best hockey,” said Maclaine. “You might think that a year break would kind of make someone a little rusty, but I think it really gave me that mental break that I needed to get out of my own head and that physical break that I needed. Kind of getting back in shape mentally and physically has been an awesome journey so far.”

When not playing with the Riveters, Maclaine coaches Ironbound Elite as a Head Coach for the 19U Elite team, and an assistant coach for 19U and 16U Premier squads. Along with the fact that she shares a rink with her teams, seeing her players there to support her was an added benefit of playing

“My U14 players were at the tunnel holding a sign that said Nora and that put a huge smile on my face,” said Maclaine. “It was really cool to see the younger generation and the girls that I am coaching came to support me.”

Alongside the team goal of winning the championship. As for the individual goals that Maclaine holds for her season with the team, her plan is to grow as a player and a person.

“Being a part of this team, I think I can see that for myself and for everybody here,” she said. “Obviously, I got that first goal under my belt like I mentioned, so check that off, but I think there’s obviously a lot more potential that I could bring to the table, and I hope I can really bring that forward throughout the season.”

And even in the midst of her current season, Maclaine still finds time to keep in touch with members of her former teams, a bridge to her past and exposure for her present squad.

“I’ve had a couple friends reach out to me,” Maclaine said. “My old coach, my old teammates, a couple buddies of mine that didn’t play hockey. They’ve been following, they’ve been messaging me and honestly, I think it’s great that the PHF is getting that exposure in Australia as well. They have a familiar name in the league, and I think it’s been really cool.”

All in all, each time she laces up her skates and hits the ice, Nora Maclaine is proof that you really can have the best of both worlds. Or at least both hemispheres of this one.