Number 10 for this ranking was difficult. This was where you really had to choose between multiple goalies across the different leagues who had very little international experience. The honourable mentions were easier then this because at least with the honourable mentions I could just find five goalies to throw in to a single category. For number 10 on this list I decided to pick the goalie who has had the strongest performance recently.
For me one of the most memorable performances recently by a goalie recently has to be Delayne Brian on the road to the Calgary Inferno winning the 2016 Clarkson Cup. On National TV Delayne Brian had one job; stop the strongest team in the CWHL Les Canadiennes. It wouldn’t be easy considering that Les Canadiennes had just brushed aside the Toronto Furies as if they weren’t even there and won the season series against the Calgary Inferno. What was considered impossible happened though as the Inferno won their first Clarkson Cup.
Before the game of her life few people would have expected such a performance out of Delayne Brian. Unlike the goalies in front of her Brian didn’t have a record breaking NCAA career or participate in international tournaments for Canada apart from one U18 tournament in 2008. Delayne Brian was the starting goalie for Team Canada and took home a Silver Medal.
After that Brian played for a struggling Wayne State Warriors team. Her first season with the Wayne State Warriors was her only season where her team finished with a winning record. After that season Delayne Brian was in for some seasons where she was consistently under siege. If you ask Brian though I’m sure she’ll say that she loved the extra shots.
It’s these extra shots that have prepared Brian for her CWHL career. Picked up by the Calgary Inferno for the 2013/14 season Delayne Brian took the starting role and didn’t look back. She took the CWHL by storm and ended up being awarded the Goalie of the Year award for her efforts. It wasn’t until the 2015/16 season where Brian and the Calgary Inferno finally ended up playing for the Clarkson Cup.
It was an interesting road to the Clarkson Cup for the Calgary Inferno and Delayne Brian. Going into Game 1 against the Brampton Thunder, it seemed as if the goaltending battle was in favour of Brampton. That might have been true for game 1 of the series however in game 2 where the Inferno needed just one win to move on it was Delayne Brian who stepped it up.
Game 2 against Brampton wasn’t the only time that Delayne Brian showed her potential in the 2015/16 season. During the 2015/16 CWHL season Les Canadiennes only lost three games. Two of those games they lost to Delayne Brian and the Calgary Inferno. The average SV% against Les Canadiennes was a 0.887 SV%. Brian stepped up against Les Canadiennes with a 0.890 SV%. Doesn’t seem like a big change but anytime you can end up as above average versus Les Canadiennes you take it.
It’s interesting looking at the Clarkson Cup Final game. The score ended up being 8-3 but the Inferno were outshot 41-26. At first glance you’d think that Les Canadiennes goalie Charline Labonte was just flat out bad and gave away the game to the Inferno. Thankfully we watch the game to find the true story. The real story of what happened was Delayne Brian holding the fort against a barrage of shots while the Inferno offense took advantage of their depth to score opportunistic goals. It was one of the few games where goaltending was indeed a factor.
Delayne Brian’s performance was rightfully award top honours after the game. Brian was named the playoff MVP (CWHL version of the Conn Smythe) and was named as 1st star of the game. What I personally really liked about Delayne Brian’s performance was that it was obvious she developed a play style just for this game. For some players it’s hard to adapt because it becomes instinct to stick to a certain style of play.
For Brian adapting was the only way to capture the Clarkson Cup. So what Brian did was become fluid in the way she played. A technical or positional style of play wouldn’t work against a team that was brimming with talented shooters and passers. The mantra Brian had during the game was simply “stop the puck no matter what”. And that is exactly what she. She threw out every part of her body in nearly a Dominik Hasek style of play to make those saves. It caught the Les Canadiennes players off guard and frustrated them till the end.
All-in-all Delayne Brian is an entertaining goalie who will be looking to taking that next step and reclaim her spot as the top goalie of the CWHL which for the past two seasons has been Charline Labonte. There are no doubts though that Brian has the skill to pull it off. Watch out CWHL, the Calgary Inferno are ready to take the league by storm and repeat as champions.