It was an exciting day for the players, teams and fans of the CWHL as the draft eligible players finally found themselves a home. There were 16 rounds in the CWHL Draft which resulted in 72 players joining the CWHL ranks for the coming 2016/17 season. Obviously not every player will find they have a roster spot on the team. And this especially goes for the goalies.
Nine goalies were taken in the 2016 CWHL Draft. With only ten spots in the CWHL for goalies it’s obvious not all nine goalies will see action this season. So with that in mind we’ll take a look at the goalies drafted by each team in the CWHL. It’s important to remember that the leagues these goalies come from do not receive the same attention or coverage that the CHL for example has so these won’t be full blown scouting reports. However I’m still going to try my best to give the best representation of these goalies that I can.
Boston Blades Drafted Goalies
Interview with Lauren Dahm (12th Round)
Q: You last played NCAA in the 2010/11 season. How have you been keeping yourself ready for this draft?
Lauren Dahm: Since graduating, I have played competitive women's tournaments as well as 'A' Men's league. Definitely been seeing some quality puck!Since graduating, I have played competitive women's tournaments as well as 'A' Men's league. Definitely been seeing some quality puck!
Q: How did you come to the decision that you would like to join the CWHL?
Lauren Dahm: I have always aspired to play professional hockey. The timing/location hasn't really worked out until this year. My job has become slightly more flexible and I am lucky my boss is so supportive. The opportunity arose to go to the Boston Blades Prospect Camp in May. It went pretty well and when Krista asked me to enter the draft, there was no question!
Q: What expectations do you have for yourself in the short-term and long-term?
Lauren Dahm: Short-term would be to make the team! That is the first goal. From there, if I am lucky enough to have the chance, I would love to contribute to the success of the Blades.
Q: How would you describe your playstyle to those who have never had the chance to see you play?
Lauren Dahm: My style is definitely more attack and athleticism rather than relying on technique. I try to be calm and cool and set the tone for the team from the goal out.
Q: What have you talked about with Blades GM Krista Patronick about your role on the Blades?
Lauren Dahm: We haven't been looking past the tryout stage too much. Starting there and then hopefully finding the best fit for me and the Blades!We haven't been looking past the tryout stage too much. Starting there, and then hopefully finding the best fit for me and the Blades!
Amanda Fontaine (13th Round)
The Northfield-native has been waiting for this moment since she was young. Amanda Fontaine has one thing on her mind for the coming season and that is make it into the CWHL. With Geneviève Lacasse gone the starting position for the Boston Blades is wide open and Fontaine is definitely a candidate for the position. In fact Fontaine is a candidate for the back-up position as well.
Amanda Fontaine is not afraid or unexperienced in working hard for a position. It took until her third season at Sacred Heart University to be given the starting position. Fontaine played 20 games going 4-11-3 and putting up a 4.16GAA along with a 0.899SV% in her first season as a NCAA starter. Not amazing numbers however playing for a team that isn’t a powerhouse will cause a goalie to be under siege a lot. In fact her transition into starter was met with Fontaine facing 36.7 shots per game. The next season Fontaine became more comfortable as a starter putting up a 1.82GAA plus a 0.936SV% to go along with her 5-6-2 record on the season.
Given Fontaine’s NCAA career there’s strong reasons to believe she is capable of joining the CWHL and being a productive member of the Boston Blades. Fontaine may need time to adjust though as the Blades were a raw team last season who allowed the opposition to bombard Lacasse unopposed. With the Blades looking relatively brand new thanks to the recent draft, Fontaine could take a 1A/1B position within the Blades goalie depth chart to make the transition easier.
Alessandra Armstrong (15th Round)
The Toronto Furies are, for intents and purposes, set in net for the 2016/17 CWHL season. Christina Kessler has shown to be a suitable starter while Sonja van der Bliek is the back-up who was brought in from the Brampton Thunder via trade. So these are two goalies that the Toronto organization values and therefore isn’t in a hurry to replace.
That doesn’t mean though that Alessandra Armstrong was drafted for the sake of being drafted. She’s a legitimately talented goalie in her own right. Her past two seasons at Ryerson University Armstrong grew into the starter role. Amstrong started eight games her first season, 17 games the second season and finally 11 games this past season. For Armstrong she’ll be remembered at Ryerson for a while as the record holder for single-season wins for the school along with a memorable win at Laurentian University where Armstrong made 41-saves in a 3-1 win.
Expectations for Armstrong’s first training camp/season shouldn’t be high. It’s an uphill battle as mentioned before due to the goalies in front of Armstrong. Despite that she’ll be able to practice consistently with the Furies. This will allow Armstrong to move up the depth chart and grab her chance at a spot on the roster in the future.
Jetta Rackleff (11th Round)
Like the Toronto Furies, the Brampton Thunder has their two goalies for next season set. Both Erica Howe and Liz Knox are capable starters who will platoon for the Thunder in the CWHL 2016/17 season. Jetta Rackleff though doesn’t seem to mind the challenge. Rackleff might be the most interesting goalie in this draft class. There’s the potential for Rackleff to be the diamond in the rough GM’s dream of drafting.
What makes Rackleff an interesting goalie is that her biggest success has come in Inline hockey. She won three Gold Medals with Team USA at the 2009, 2011, and 2013 Inline Hockey Championships. By all accounts Rackleff is a celebrated goalie in the world of Inline Hockey. While Inline Hockey is obviously different then ice hockey this success shows that Rackleff has skill. Can it translate though is the question?
One NCAA school gave Jetta Rackleff the chance to prove she is a quality ice hockey goalie. That school was the Rochester Institute of Technology. While RIT wasn’t winning any national championships they did give Rackleff the time to adjust and then show her starting capabilities. Rackelff played a total of 15 games in her first two seasons at RIT. Her third and final season at RIT Rackleff took the starting role playing 16 games.
In those 16 games Rackleff had a 2-12-1 record. Not exactly wowing in any sort of way. Her 2.36GAA and 0.933SV% plus ~32 shots per game show Rackleff wasn’t at fault for her record. It’s proof of the saying that you win as a team and lose as a team. The Brampton FO is looking at the exact same information and saying nearly the exact same thing. Jetta Rackleff is a diamond in the rough goalie. Give her time to succeed and you could see her turn into the next big thing.
Kelly Campbell (14th Round)
There’s a good chance that Kelly Campbell ends up being the surprise value pick of the draft in a year or so. The CIS is an underrated and often under-scouted league. There are quality athletes in the CIS and Kelly Campbell is one of them.
It’s not that Kelly Campbell wasn’t skilled enough to play for a NCAA; it was her choice to stay close to home and earn an education to become a commercial pilot. While learning to pilot a plane, Kelly Campbell became a driving force behind a strong women’s hockey team that would eventually go on in the 2014/15 season to earn their first CIS Championship in UWO history. In fact during the CIS tournament that would decide the ultimate winner Kelly Campbell only allowed one goal in the entire tourney which led to her being named the tournament MVP.
Maybe it’s her pilot mentality that gives Campbell the ability to play in high pressure games or maybe she’s just naturally gifted in that department. Whatever the case may be there’s no doubt that Kelly Campbell has ice running through her veins. UWO Head Coach Chris Higgins attributes the 2014/15 season almost completely to Campbell. Kelly Campbell allows her team to adjust in games. The first period will see the Mustangs on their heels, Campbell will shut down the opposing team, then Campbell’s Mustangs will go and grab the lead.
Campbell fits the description of a diamond in the rough draft pick. Playing in an underrated league, facing lots of action, dealing with pressure along with challenges and showing that they can rise to the occasion is what makes scouts/GM’s excited about the later rounds of the draft. It won’t be easy making it onto the Brampton Thunder roster. Campbell though does possess the ability to do it.
Emerance Maschmeyer (1st Round)
This goalie is the fifth best in the world of women’s hockey and the 4th overall pick of the 2016 CWHL draft. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Emerance Maschmeyer. What is there really to say about Maschmeyer that hasn’t already been said? She is possibly the most exciting player entering the CWHL this 2016/17 season.
In goalie development terms she’s just started on the way up to her prime. Bringing Maschmeyer in to Calgary doesn’t just mean that you’re adding a Top 5 Goalie; it means you’re adding a potential Top 3 goalie in the world and a chance to make the Inferno Clarkson Cup winners again. The Inferno have the chance at becoming a dynasty with the addition of Maschmeyer. It’s not farfetched to say that Maschmeyer can have the impact on the Inferno that Ken Dryden did on the 70’s Montreal Canadiens.
She has the Hockey IQ, the passion, skill, speed and the competitiveness to put her over the top. Maschmeyer is a legitimate contender for Goalie of the Year in the CWHL along with nearly every other award possible. Maschmeyer is jumping into a nearly perfect situation with the Calgary Inferno. A Cup winning roster filled with Hockey Canada members along with two veteran goalies Maschmeyer can use to make the transition in Lacasse/Brian. All eyes are on Maschmeyer and she’s ready to take on the challenge.
Stephanie Nehring (11th Round)
Looking at Stephanie Nehring words from the goalie guru Mitch Korn come to mind. No matter what organization Korn works with he has a motto which is “I want a skilled goalie that is big because skill will help you make 80% of the saves while size will take care of the other 20%”. The Calgary Inferno are hoping that Nehring fits into that skilled and big mold.
The upside with the Stephanie Nehring pick is that the Inferno can take their time developing her. There’s no reason to throw Nehring into the fire quickly. The Inferno certainly have their own goalie situation to deal with before even having Nehring come in as they need to choose who to keep between Lacasse/Brian/Maschmeyer. Nehring will take more than a season to start fighting for a spot on the regular roster.
The questions about does Stephanie Nehring have the skill are partially answered through her history as a goalie with the University of Guelph Gryphons. She’s shown to be a proficient goalie in all four years of her CIS career. Listen to this, Stephanie Nehring finished her career at Guelph with a 46-6-0 record, a 1.20 GAA and the cherry on top is a 0.943SV%. These numbers obviously do not guarantee Nehring success. These numbers do however show that Nehring is capable of being a quality goalie.
Taylor Hough (6th Round)
There comes a time for every team where the starter is leaving for whatever reason and you need to find an heir to the crease. The Blades right now are experiencing the need to find a new goalie to be their starter. Les Canadiennes Front Office is jumping out ahead and trying to find that heir to the crease right now. This is obviously what Les Canadiennes had in mind when they drafted Taylor Hough in the 6th round. Hough was the second goalie chosen in this draft behind Emerance Maschmeyer which is a big deal.
Les Canadiennes have targeted a goalie that has gone nearly the same path as current starter Charline Labonte. Both are McGill University graduates who have won a lot at McGill. Labonte finished school at McGill with a 69-2 record for her CIS career. Hough has a CIS championship and runner-up to the CIS champs on her record. McGill has shown to be the development dream for players and Les Canadiennes are hoping that Hough will be able to follow in the footsteps of Charline Labonte.
Amanda Makela (8th Round)
Q: You’re the only goalie that has been drafted with pro experience, how will that experience affect you in the CWHL?
Amanda Makela: I think it gives me a bit of an advantage. I'm already use to the speed and skill of the players I will be playing with. At the same time, just because I've had pro experience doesn't guarantee anything either. There will be a lot of great goalies at camp.
Q: How did you come to the decision that you wanted to be drafted into the CWHL?
AM: After university I still really wanted to play hockey. CWHL is a great league and has been around for many years and have proven to be a sustainable league. I wanted to play CWHL last year but then the opportunity came to play for the NWHL, which was really hard to pass up. It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make but in the end I decided to try the NWHL. So I'm glad this year that I have an opportunity to be apart of the CWHL.
Q: What expectations do you have for yourself this season and beyond?
I haven't really made any expectations this year yet. Right now I am just training hard to be ready if I do get the opportunity to play. I would just like to have fun going into training/selection camp and hope for the best. If I am lucky enough to make the team then I will set some goals for the season.
Q: How do you manage keep yourself game ready when you saw your game time be cut down (+30 games in the NCAA to >10 games in the NWHL)?
AM: That was one of the hardest things I had to do this past season. With buffalo it was an interesting situation because we had such a rough start. Bri is an amazing goalie so I knew going in that my ice time would be decreased. But because we struggled as a team I got to come in in relief several games. Every game I went into I knew it might be a possibility so I was able to prepare for it. As the season went on and we got better as a team the games got closer and we were able to help Bri out more. For these games I tried to prepare the same way because you still never know what might happen. It was also just really fun to be around the team, we had a great group of girls and we ended up winning from out working teams. Just being apart of that helped me prepare for each game.
Q: Not every goalie plays the exact same way. How are you different from other goalies?
AM: I've change my style a bit over the years but I've always tried to focus on having quick and crisp movements, which help me get to where I need to be quicker to make the save and help with puck tracking. So I'd say the technical side of my game differs as well as my ability to play the puck.
Q: Have you had the chance to talk with anyone in management or the players from Les Canadiennes organization?
I talked more with them last year since I almost joined the league then. I was able to speak with their GM Meg, their goalie coach as well as Charline Lebonté a bit, which was really nice. This year I haven't spoken too much with them. I spoke with Meg a bit before the draft about their game plan and goalie situation but that's about it.