Finally the season is underway for everyone. The AHL just started to play this past weekend, the CWHL and the NWHL just had their second weekend of games as well. There were very few hockey games on Tuesday so now is the perfect time to take a quick look at some leagues, some goalies and some growing situations. So without further ado let’s get into it.
Goalies Dominating CWHL
So far each CWHL team has played at least two games with the Brampton Thunder playing four so far. After two weekends of games the CWHL has shown to be a goalies league so far. Yes the season is young however we’re on pace to see a very tight season from the goalies. The league save percentage is 0.917 which is the highest of any of the leagues I follow here (so that means this SV% is over the AHL/WHL/OHL/QMJHL/NWHL). Out of the eight goalies that have played games in the CWHL only one goalie is over 0.500 Goals Saved Above Average and that is Emerance Maschmeyer with a 0.573 GSAA.
On the other end of the scale there is only one goalie with a -0.500 GSAA which is Lauren Dahm. Context is important though as she achieved that rating through a 6-1 blowout loss versus the Toronto Furies after a tremendous performance against the Toronto Furies the previous night in a 2-1 OTL. Dahm is also the only goalie with a Shots Against/60 over 30.0 with a 40.2 SA/60. Compared to last season Dahm should be feeling good as Genevieve Lacasse last season had a 50.5 SA/60 with the Boston Blades. In the strict sense of the word there has been improvement even if Dahm feels as though she’s under siege a lot but when have you ever heard a goalie complain about getting shots?
In a small league like the CWHL opportunities for talent to breakout aren’t in abundance. It’s hard to break into a top 6 at forward onto a team that is already stacked such as Montreal Les Canadiennes or onto a defense such as Brampton’s. It’s even more difficult when you’re a goalie trying to make a name for yourself. The season is 22 games long so that can be even more difficult to separate yourself from the pack. Add to the fact that if you’re joining the league from the draft it can be difficult to secure a spot against the experienced netminders.
So when an established goalie such as Genevieve Lacasse is traded away and a spot opens up, there is actually good that comes out of it. You can’t blame Boston Blades fans for being upset at losing Lacasse. Lacasse is an elite level goalie who won two Clarkson Cups with Boston. With her departure though the CWHL as a whole gets to witness the breaking out of a new star goalie. Now that goalie may or may not be Lauren Dahm. It could be Shelley Payne or maybe next year the Blades bring in another goalie from the draft who excels. Either way this Lacasse trade is a chance for a new talent to emerge onto one of the biggest stages of women’s hockey and we should all be excited about that.
Getting Their Feet Under Them, Goalies in the NWHL
While in the CWHL the difference so far between the goalies is small because they are all doing so well the opposite is true for the NWHL. Right now the NWHL is more of an offensive show with very few goalies battles sprinkled in there. Naturally the goaltending is going isn’t going to shine from the start when you have two teams using goalies who have yet to be full-time starters in the NWHL and the best goalie in the league, Jaimie Leonoff, is out with an injury.
So let’s use some stats to back up this storyline. The current league save % is 0.893. There is a sizable gap between the goalies using Goals Saved Above Average of 4.55. Buffalo Beauts goalie Brianne McLaughlin is currently tops in the NWHL with a 1.37 GSAA and Connecticut Whale goalie Shenae Lundberg is at the bottom with a -3.18 GSAA.
Like the Boston Blades situation in the CWHL, the NWHL has two goalie battles going on. First is Nicole Stock and Shenae Lundberg from the Connecticut Whale. Both goalies did well behind Jaimie Leonoff last season. Nicole Stock herself had four quality starts in her only four starts of the 2015/16 season. To go along with that 100% Quality Start rating, Stock also had a 3.564 GSAA which was good enough for third best in the entire NWHL. Usually the GSAA stat favours goalies who have played a majority of the seasons games. For Stock to only play five games and be 3rd in the NWHL for GSAA is just incredible and nearly impossible.
In New York we have two goalies who are newcomers to the NWHL ice, Sojung Shin and Katie Fitzgerald. Both goalies have a lot to prove as they now have to stand in the crease that was going to be Jaimie Leonoff’s. With a better team in front of them though it will hopefully help their transition into pro hockey.
Tale of Two Goalies in the OHL
It’s fun how an off-season can change things. In one off-season you can be traded, drafted into the NHL, change your training routine, go to a NHL training camp, etc. and then come into your league one of the top goalies after being one of the worst in the season before. For Troy Timpano and Dylan Wells this was one of those off-seasons. I’m not going to sugar coat anything about each goalies respective 2015/16 season in the OHL. It was bad and even terrible at some points. It’s not a stretch to say that neither goalie had much fun.
For Dylan Wells the fun started again at the 2016 NHL Draft where he was selected by the Edmonton Oilers. From that point on Wells was given a boost. He had access to NHL training staff, NHL level drills, NHL expectations, along with NHL level goalie coaching which is no joke (just ask Cam Talbot). Wells was given an opportunity and he ran with it. In fact he did so well that the Peterborough Petes had enough faith to move out 2015/16 starter Matthew Mancina.
Dylan Wells rewarded the faith of the Peterborough Petes front office with being one of the best goalies in the OHL so far. In seven starts Wells has had six quality starts for a Quality Starts rating of 86%. Those six quality starts are also tied for first in the OHL with Justin Fazio. It doesn’t stop there either. Only two goalies have a Goals Saved Above Average over 6.000, Kaden Fulcher and Dylan Wells. Fulcher is currently sitting at an 8.569 GSAA for best in the OHL while Wells is just behind him at an 8.211 GSAA. Wells has done a very good job getting himself back on track and in contention for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.
Now for the other goalie Troy Timpano. For three seasons he’s been in Sudbury under siege for the two seasons he was the starting goalie. From top to bottom the entire Sudbury team struggled. The season ended and Timpano focused on his training. Unlike Dylan Wells though Troy Timpano was not drafted into the NHL, instead Timpano’s turning point was a trade. This trade involved Timpano who was sent to the Erie Otters.
It’s surprising what a change of scenery can do. 99% of athletes will always give it their all no matter where they are. When you get to be in a new situation though with brand new players, people, etc. it can change how you play for better or worse. In Timpano’s case it was like a breath of fresh air. Depsite the injury Timpano has started off with a shutout, a 4-0-0-0 record, a 5.235 GSAA (4th best in the OHL) and a 75% Quality Start %. This is the type of play he needs to get his confidence and consistency back.
Team CanadaWJC Contenders
Goaltending is always a focus for Canada during the World Junior Championship. There always seems to be a narrative at some point that other countries have a goalie that will steal at least one game whereas Canada’s will just provide good enough games to scrap by. Whether or not that narrative is true is not the point of this portion. This portion is dedicated to goalies who are looking to catch the attention of Hockey Canada.
If you were following along during the summer showcase you’d know Team Canada brought four goalies to the summer showcase: Evan Cormier, Zach Sawchenko, Carter Hart, and Connor Ingram. It’s not wrong to assume that these four goalies have the inside track on the positions. All four goalies have deserved their spots as well. It’s a crowded crease though and Hockey Canada will need to look hard at which goalies they should bring. There are also three other names to throw into the ring with the aforementioned four: Evan Fitzpatrick, Dylan Wells and Callum Booth. I went over Dylan Wells above so I’ll focus on the two QMJHL goalies.
Evan Fitzpatrick played in the 2016 U18 World Championships for Team Canada but was obviously not invited to the Summer Showcase. If Fitzpatrick has fallen out of favour with Hockey Canada he’s doing a good job so far putting his name into contention for a spot. His GSAA is a sterling 5.2 which is 9th in the QMJHL. Even better is the fact that Fitzpatrick is currently on a 6-game Quality Start streak. His only non-Quality Start game was his first game back playing for Sherbrooke. This is a goalie on a mission right now.
And last but certainly not least is possibly the most underrated consideration for the Team Canada WJC team, Callum Booth. He’s the 4th round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2015. His draft position definitely doesn’t matter at this point as he’s emerging as the best goalie in the QMJHL this season. Diving right into the numbers he’s tops in the QMJHL with a 9.976 GSAA along with six quality starts out of seven starts this season. Obviously this could just be a hot streak. However if Booth manages to keep this pace I would hope to hear his name more often as we hit December.
Quick Peek at the 2017 NHL Draft
It’s never too early to look at the upcoming draft class right? In this case there are currently three goalies who are rising up to the challenge early to show their talent: Michael DiPietro, Ian Scott and Matthew Welsh. For those who follow the OHL or just the draft in general seeing Michael DiPietro’s name here isn’t much of a surprise. He’s one of the best Canadian goalies in this draft talent wise and has the results to back it up as well. Not to mention DiPietro was the starting goalie for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
Ian Scott is a personal favourite of my own. Just love the way he plays. Beyond that though he’s stepped up on the Prince Albert Raiders enough for Raiders management to trade away Rylan Parenteau to the Tri-City Americans. There is no doubt that Scott has earned his starting role on the Raiders. He’s playing like a top 10 goalie in the WHL known for producing quality goalies. Scott has a lot of competition from other goalies and he’s doing well. He’s even outplaying highly praised draft eligible prospect Stuart Skinner.
Over in the QMJHL there is Matthew Welsh. This goalie is doing everything right so far to get him noticed. He’s winning games, the majority of the time he’s giving his team a large chance at winning and he’s putting up numbers that correlate to his excellent play. He’s 5th in the QMJHL for GSAA with a 6.648 GSAA. Welsh has gotten the start he wanted and now he just needs to show consistency moving forward.
Rookie of the Year Candidate
To finish up this very long article I’ll finish with giving one goalie their own portion. This goalie is Drummondville goalie Olivier Rodrigue. He was drafted this very summer into the QMJHL at 3rd overall to Drummondville. Usually that is a lot of pressure, especially for a 16yo playing in their first Major Junior season. So far though Rodrigue has shown he’s not up to the challenge but he wants to own the league.
Right now the only goalies that are playing better then him are QMJHL veterans Callum Booth and Samuel Montembeault. It’s just amazing to see a rookie goalie entering one of the best junior leagues in Canada and be as dominant as he has been so far. Rodrigue has an 8.368 GSAA and is 6/6 on quality starts. As always it could just be a hot streak and even if it is it’s still great to see such a young goalie making a name for himself early.