For the fourth season in a row, the NWHL will name a new Goaltender of the Year. Today, the league announced the finalists for the annual award today. The three finalists are the Boston Pride’s Katie Burt, the Connecticut Whale’s Meeri Räisänen, and the Buffalo Beauts’ Shannon Szabados.
All three goaltenders are in their first season in the league.
Burt shouldered almost all of the Pride’s goaltending needs in her first year out of college, starting all 16 games. She led the league at the end of the regular season in minutes played (928:42), shots faced (437), and saves (402). Of goalies who played at least 60 minutes, she had the fourth-best goals against average (2.26). Burt also put on a show in the All Star Game, shutting down Team Stecklein in the shootout to secure the win for Team Szabados.
Räisänen was also a workhorse for the Whale, until an injury sidelined her with four games left in the season. The Finnish national team goaltender was a stalwart and kept the Whale games with her play. She finished with a save percentage of .908 before returning to Finland for National Team duties and to rehab her injury ahead of the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
On a team with a goalie duo that’s unrivaled in all of hockey, Szabados played a majority of the minutes in Buffalo. She finished the regular season with a goals against average of 1.49, a league best, and a save percentage of .934, which was second-best in the league. Szabados was named an All Star captain in her first season, posting a shutout in the first half of the game.
Last year, the NWHL handed out seven awards. Previous winners of Goaltender of the Year are Amanda Leveille (Beauts, 2018), Katie Fitzgerald (Riveters, 2017), and Brittany Ott (2016).
A panel of 20 media members and broadcasters (including myself) voted on the award in cooperation with the Women’s Hockey Media Association.
The winner will be announced at a date later to be announced, but after the Isobel Cup on March 17.