As part of the upcoming “Greatest All-Time Goalies in Women’s Hockey” project I needed to do research into the Olympics as it is a major part of the game. About a month ago the research was complete on creating the advanced goalie stat portion for the Olympics (View Here). Recently I dove in some more to break down the stats to settle an idle curiosity of mine, who are the best Olympic goalies? It was difficult because women’s hockey at the Olympics is just under two decades old and the equality wasn’t quite there at the beginning. However I feel that the four goalies named below are the All-Time Top 4 goalies (in no particular order).
Kim Martin, Sweden
Most of the hockey world knows Kim Martin as the only non-Canadian goalie to have recorded a win versus the USA in
the Olympics in 2006. While this is a great accomplishment, it isn’t the only reason why Kim Martin is one of the goalies named here. Kim Martin is goalie of longevity. No goalie has yet to match the four appearances that Kim Martin has made at the Olympics (Florence Schelling & Noora Raty will tie Martin in 2018). Martin didn’t just attend these Olympics as a back-up goalie or as the third goalie. The 2002, 2006, and 2010 Olympics saw Kim Martin leading the way for Sweden resulting in two Olympic Medals: Silver and a Bronze.
There are more reasons to have her in this exclusive club. Martin is only one of three goalies who have been named Top Goalie and named to the Olympic All-Star team. In Martin’s four Olympic Appearances she has finished Top 3 in Goals Saved Above Average three times and Top 3 in SV% twice. Those three Top 3 GSAA finishes are the most in women’s Olympic Ice Hockey though Florence Schelling and Shannon Szabados are right behind her with two Top 3 GSAA finishes a piece.
These accomplishments and accolades will keep Kim Martin in the Top 5 of All-Time Olympic Goalies for a long time.
Florence Schelling, Switzerland
If Florence Schelling is not Goalie Queen of the Olympics than she’s sharing the throne; she can’t be lower than number 1 which is odd because you rarely hear the name “Florence Schelling” as a top player in the game. It’s hardly Schelling’s fault though. Switzerland has never been known as an offensive powerhouse in the men’s game and it’s even more obvious that they struggle offensively in the women’s game. These offensive struggles lead Switzerland to be stuck fighting to stay in the top division in the World’s year after year when they should be fighting to break into Group A. It also lead to Schelling being least spoken goalie name in the game until 2014.
In 2014 Schelling finally got the praise she deserved as she drove the Swiss to their first Olympic medal in ice hockey (mens/womens) in Swiss history. This resulted in her becoming the first goalie to Triple an Olympics (Top in Position, Media All-Star Team, Olympic MVP) and become the first goalie to be named the MVP in women’s Olympic Ice Hockey.
As I mentioned above though Florence Schelling’s entire Olympic history is outstanding. Schelling currently holds the highest combined Goals Saved Above Average in Olympic history with a 9.402 GSAA with the second highest being Irina Gashennikova of Russia with a 7.931 GSAA. In Schelling’s three Olympic appearances she was the starter of two those Olympics (2010/2014). And in those three appearances Florence Schelling finished once in the Top 3 for SV% and twice in the Top 3 for GSAA. Last but not least Florence Schelling has the 4th highest GSAA/Olympic Appearance among all goalies with a 3.134 GSAA/Appearance.
Schelling is just a fantastic goalie in all facets of the game that truly deserves the label “underrated”.
Shannon Szabados, Canada
Shannon Szabados has a reputation in the Olympics and its well deserved. She is a threat in every game she plays. She
provides everything a team needs: puck stopping, leadership, and a will to win. If you were to bet on who the first goalie would be to score in an Olympic game you should go all-in on Shannon Szabados as she’s been known to play the puck and sometimes take a longing look at the empty net. In 2018 she will attempt to tie fellow Canadians Kim St-Pierre and Charline Labonte in Olympic Gold Medals. Overall Shannon Szabados is the Queen of the Crease with very few contenders for her title.
On a Canadian team where it’s filled with stars such as Marie Philip-Poulin, Natalie Spooner, Hayley Wickenheiser, etc. it’s hard for a goalie to stand out yet Shannon Szabados does. How? She’s one of nine goalies who are undefeated at the Olympics and the all-time Olympic leader in wins (6). Currently Szabados owns the highest SV% in the Olympics with a 0.966 SV% and is tied for second in shutouts (3) with Kim Martin and Charline Labonte. In Szabados’ two Olympic appearances she’s been the starter for Canada both times over highly talented goalies such as Labonte and St-Pierre.
It doesn’t stop there. Szabados holds the most Quality Starts in Olympic history with 6 QS and a 1.000 Quality Start %. Szabados definitely passes the eye test and the statistical test for consistency. The impact of Szabados was felt every game as well as she has the highest GSAA/60 (1.263) in all Olympics. That impact is also felt each Olympics statistically as Szabados has the second highest GSAA/Appearance at 3.874 which is behind Jennifer Harss who posted a 5.223 in one Olympic appearance.
The cherry on top is in her two Olympic appearances Szabados was named Top Goalie once, named to the Media All-Star team once, finished in the Top 3 of SV% twice and finished in the Top 3 of GSAA twice.
Sarah Tueting, USA
If you are a newer fan of women’s hockey or even one who came to the sport in the last 15 years , this name might be a bit
surprising. Usually when you think about USA Hockey goalies you think about Jessie Vetter who started for the USA in the 2010/2014 Olympics along with multiple World Championships. Vetter is the current face of American goaltending (though Alex Rigsby and Nicole Hensley are looking to be the new face) so it’s natural to assume that if there was to be an American on this list it would be her. However Tueting is the most successful American Olympic goalie that we’ve seen at the Olympics and it will take a good effort to knock her out of her spot.
First and foremost Sarah Tueting is the only American starting goalie with a Gold Medal that came from the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Tueting made her name in Nagano by going 3-0-0 and making 21/22 saves in the Gold Medal Game vs Canada. The end result of the tournament had Tueting finish 2nd in GSAA, 1st in GSAA/60, and 1st in SV%. It was the best performance from an American goalie until Jessie Vetter in 2010.
It was a tough decision between the two but in All-Time stats Tueting is ahead of Vetter. Among All-Time American Olympic goalies Tueting is first in SV%, GSAA, GSAA/60, and GSAA/Olympic Appearance while Vetter is second in each category. A small minus against Vetter is her 2014 performance which wasn’t overly noteworthy whereas even though Tueting wasn’t the starter in 2002 she still put in an above average performance. In 2018 it could change from Tueting to Vetter as Greatest American Olympic goalie but for now it’s Tueting.