Goalie of the Year Races (SDHL/NWHL/CWHL)

We're getting really close to the end of the season for the SDHL, NWHL, and the CWHL. Is it enough time for one goalie to pull ahead of the other's in their respective leagues? Due to how close a lot of these races are I'd say yes. These goalie races are a lot closer than the playoff races currently ongoing. So enough boring set up talk, let's get to the meat of the situation.


In a general sense there are four goalies I wouldn't be overly surprised to see walk away with the SDHL Goalie of the Year award: Klara Peslarova, Sara Grahn, Alba Gonzalo, & Sofia Reideborn. Of the four though I expect the first two to actually win it. Peslarova and Grahn are currently in a dogfight for the honour of being named SDHL Top Goalie and neither really gained ground on the other one today in the Lulea/MODO match. At this point you could do a coin flip and there'd be zero complaints about which goalie ended up as the winner.

Now all four goalies are in the Top 4 of the SDHL in Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) and are the only four goalies to hit the +5 GSAA mark in the SDHL this season. What set Peslarova/Grahn above the other two is they are at the next level in GSAA, Quality Starts % & both have a higher SV% than the other two. The case for Grahn is pretty simple. She's leading the SDHL in shutouts with 6, leading in SV (0.929), leads in QS% (0.783), and is second in GSAA (7.108). If you're a fan of wins well you'll love Grahn even more as she boosts a 21-2-0 record. It's a very convincing case to be leading in so many categories or being so close in the case of GSAA. The case for Peslarova is as follows: she leads the league in GSAA (8.876), 2nd in SV% (0.926), & is 2nd in QS% among starters (0.739).

If we went just by these numbers without considering any other context it looks like Grahn is the close, but clear winner. What closes the gap for me is the team effects on the stats here. It's no secret that Grahn plays behind one of the best teams around. Lulea just won their 3rd straight regular season title and there's not much standing in their way from winning back-to-back Championships. Grahn only sees 20.8 SA/60 which is ridiculously low. Even last year as starter Maria Omberg saw at least 23.1 SA/60. Lulea is a tank though and make it easy on Grahn. How much easier is hard to say but easy enough to push her just ahead of Peslarova in SV%/QS%? Definitely within the realm of likely. Peslarova does not receive the same benefits from MODO. Peslarova sees 32.9 SA/60 and her team isn't as strong as Grahn's as seen by their overall record of 22-6-6. They actually have less wins and goals than 3rd place Linkoping but getting into OT has give them four extra points. So from this person's point of view the SDHL Goalie of the Year award will come down to how much effect the team in front of each goalie has had on their overall stats.


It's Shannon Szabados' world and we're all just living in it. We all knew she was great but she hasn't played in a women's league. It's been all men's hockey with tournaments every so often with the women's team. Turns out the GOAT is the GOAT and that's just how it goes. She's crushing the NWHL right now with a 0.944 SV%. Yes we can make the same arguments about team effects for Szabados as we made for Grahn but that doesn't make up for the difference between Szabados' 0.944 SV% and Amanda Leveille's 0.916 SV%. If you want more proof of the dominance of Szabados she's currently holding a 7.330 GSAA and in comparison Leveille holds a 3.490 GSAA. That's almost four more goals saved with five less starts. And going back to team effects for a second the Minnesota Whitecaps are no slouches themselves. While Leveille does see a higher SA/60 (27.1) the difference isn't staggering as Szabados holds a 24.4 SA/60. One last piece of evidence is in the QS% category. Szabados is sitting at a 0.875 QS%. That means only one start out of her eight starts was below the league average SV% whereas Leveille's 0.615 QS% is very good just not as good as what Szabados is putting up. A slim argument you can put up is Leveille has handled the larger workload between the two of them. However it's not Szabados' fault that the Beauts have Hensley as the back-up and the Beauts have shown when it comes to games they really, really want to win they go with the GOAT.


Now this is the closest Goalie of the Year race out of all three leagues mentioned here. You have three goalies who all have very good arguments why they should be the CWHL Goalie of the Year and even I have trouble picking one confidently. Let's go through the stats and maybe we'll figure it out...or make the situation even muddier.

If there's someone you can say at first glance holds an ever so slight lead it's Emerance Maschmeyer. She leads the CWHL in both GSAA and SV%. Both are very slender leads though. Rigsby is only 0.001 behind her in SV% while Erica Howe is behind Maschmeyer by ~0.500 with four less starts to Howe's credit. Of all CWHL starts Maschmeyer is 2nd in QS% with a 0.706 though once again it's a slim lead as Howe behind her with a 0.692 QS%. The goalie who is either second or first depending on who you ask is Alex Rigsby. She leads the league in QS% by a good margin with a 0.846 QS%. Rigsby currently does sit 3rd in GSAA but it's not by much, ~1 goal saved behind Maschmeyer, however Rigsby has four less starts. Given Rigsby's 0.928 SV% it's reasonable to believe that she would overtake Maschmeyer in GSAA if she caught up in games started. Lastly there's Erica Howe who might be one of the most underrated starters among the North American leagues. While Erica Howe only has a 7-6-0 record it's not her fault that her team hasn't been able to rack up more wins with her in net. Howe boosts a 0.692 QS% which shows that yes the Markham Thunder are not taking advantage of Howe's goaltending. Howe is also 2nd in the league in GSAA. She's saving a lot of goals and among the three goalies mentioned here she's certainly seeing the bigger workload with a 34.1 SA/60 compared to Maschmeyer's 23.6 and Rigsby's 26.2 SA/60. These last few games hold so much potential either way especially with the Calgary/Montreal match-up this weekend.

Long story short, an exciting goalie race is coming to an end while others are about to heat up before ending quickly themselves.

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->