Cam Maclise making his mark in AHL

Author: calgarysun.com
Date: Mar 20, 2018

Unlike so many other university hockey players, Cam Maclise has earned his shot at the professional level just months after graduating – a big win for both him and Mount Royal University.

And late last year, he permanently secured his spot in North America’s second-best pro league.

During his two-year tenure with the Mount Royal Cougars, Maclise averaged a point-a-game, netting 27 goals to go along with 29 assists in a total of 56 games.

In the spring of 2017, just before graduating with an accounting degree, he hung up his Cougars sweater for the final time after the team was eliminated in the U Sports Canada West Conference semi-finals.

But soon, he received an opportunity to play in the ECHL for the Colorado Eagles, a minor-league affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

At the pro level, Maclise picked up where he left off with MRU. He played a major part in the Eagles playoff championship run, racking 12 points in 20 playoff games.

Maclise lifted the Kelly Cup less than a month after school ended and caught the eye of many professional hockey clubs, including a team just one level under the National Hockey League.

At the time, Maclise was doing a summer internship with an accounting firm. It was then when the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose organization touched base with the native of Lacombe, Alta., and invited him to the main camp.

He had to leave his job three weeks before camp. He also had to readjust to an athlete’s life again, maintaining nutrition, physique and getting-in icetime during the evenings.

In main camp, Maclise impressed Moose bench boss Pascal Vincent, along with management, and as a result, he cracked the opening day lineup for this fall.

Maclise started the 2017-18 AHL season on a professional tryout, or PTO, with which he was given a 25-game period to impress management and either get offered another 25 games or sign a contract to solidify his spot on the team.

“We had some reports on him when he was in university, and he was really evaluated with his playoff performance last year with Colorado, and he was a really good player for them,” Vincent said. “He had a really solid impact right away with us.”

Unaware of Maclise’s road to the professional ranks, Vincent explains that players such as Maclise who are journeymen by nature, are indeed a necessity.

“We’re looking for those kinds of players every year — you can’t hide anymore.” Vincent said.

“There’s too many people scouting, and it’s such a small world, and there’s a lot of players. But if you’re a player like that, somebody is going to see you at some point.

“His attitude was right, he’s working hard, practising hard … and when he’s playing, he’s pretty effective.”

Maclise, a onetime captain of the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, went into Wednesday night’s AHL game having scored six goals and 11 points in 52 contests. On Dec. 5, just 16 appearances into his 25-game PTO, he inked a contract to stay with the Moose for the remainder of this season.

“I was a little bit relieved and little bit excited at the same time to know that your gonna be in the same spot for the season” Maclise said.

“Definitely excitement — it’s something I’ve been working towards and has been a goal of mine since I decided to go to school. I always wanted the opportunity to pursue pro hockey. When I was able to sign the contract, it was a good feeling being able to reach that goal.”

The Moose are currently in first place in their division with one of the highest ranked penalty-kill teams in the AHL, which is among Maclise’s biggest contributions to the team.

Cougars bench boss Bert Gilling believes Maclise earned all the success he’s now enjoying.

“I was absolutely elated.” Gilling said.

“Excited for Cam and Cougar Hockey. I heard right from the Manitoba Moose organization. They wanted to let me know they signed him to an AHL contract and that he was doing very well. It was something I can take back to share with our staff MRU and our players.

“We’re certainly very proud of him — he’s doing great,” Gilling continued. “It’s a milestone accomplishment for our program for one our student-athletes and men’s hockey players to achieve what he’s achieved so far. It’s really remarkable, and it’s a great story. He’s earned it.”

What makes Maclise’s story remarkable is the fact he made it to the big leagues and graduated from MRU with a 3.91 GPA.

“He made the Moose as an undrafted free agent essentially from U Sport. I can’t think of anybody in our league in league who has done that. Now there are guys who left early and sign a AHL contract, but Cam didn’t do that,” Gilling said. “Cam graduated here, went on a tryout and made their team.”

“He’s one level away from the NHL. If he settles and grows and get better, who knows?”

The legacy Maclise left behind with Cougar hockey can already be felt on the new recruits this year, according to Gilling.

“To say we helped develop an AHL opportunity for Cam is very rewarding,” Gilling said. “He’s very appreciative of the opportunity and is proud to call himself a Cougar alumni and a graduate of Mount Royal.”

Gilling believes it’s the reinforcement of Cougar hockey that leads to the success of players, such as Maclise

“This is the evidence of a young man who took an advantage as a Cougar and turned himself into an AHL player,” Gilling said.

Gilling and Cougar hockey have had plenty of big-shot names make it pro out of MRU in recent years, such as Cody Cartier, who played in the U.K. pro league, Tyler Fiddler, who is having success in Denmark, and many more. Maclise is now added to that list and adds more flare to Cougar hockey.

“With the young guys, we talk about those players all the time,” Gilling said. “Do it the right way like these guys and that’s waiting for you.

“That’s why I’m so proud of our guys.”

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