Meet the new Queen of the Crease.
Lovisa Selander is the highest ranked goaltender of the Top 25 Under 25, after finishing tied for second-best last year with Maddie Rooney at 13th overall (Emerance Maschmeyer earned the top goaltender spot). Selander deserved to rise in the rankings after her remarkable professional debut for the Boston Pride. The 24-year-old Swede has the potential for an incredibly accomplished career, professionally and internationally.
Selander took the ECAC - and all of Division I, for that matter - by storm when she enrolled at RPI University. She set the NCAA saves record with 4,167, was named ECAC Goaltender of the Year in 2019, dominated the save percentage category year after year, and finished Top-10 in Patty Kazmaier Award voting her senior season. Her stellar collegiate play earned her an invite to Sweden’s international team camp; she and Julia Åberg will have an open competition to succeed Sara Grahn when the time comes.
When Selander joined the NWHL’s most historically successful regular season team, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Boston needed a replacement for Katie Burt, and Selander would finally be able to play behind a team that could score.
Needless to say, both parties held up their end of the bargain. The Pride scored at a better clip than any team in league history (5 goals-per-game) and Selander won NWHL Goaltender of the Year.
In one season, Selander posted the most wins (17), best save percentage (.941) and second-best goals-against average (1.71) by a starter in league history (min. 10 starts). The only GAA better than hers was Shannon Szabados’ paltry 1.49 the previous year in Buffalo over 10 games.
Lovisa Selander on a team as dominant as the Boston Pride is straight-up unfair. The Pride were 23-1-0 last season, with Selander notching 17 wins and two shutouts. At this point, Selander’s NWHL career is about record-breaking. Brittany Ott and Amanda Leveille hold the single-season record for shutouts (3). Can she break that? Possibly. Can she even come close to Leveille’s save record set last season (677)? I mean, if the Pride decide to play an entire game shorthanded now and then just for funsies, then maybe. But as it stands, her defense is just too good and her offense is too prolific.
Where the challenge truly lies in Selander’s future is on the international stage. It’s possible that she get a nod come 2022 for the Olympics after a disappointing entry for Sweden that included a blowout loss to Finland, an overtime upset to Japan and an overall seventh-place finish. Might the Swedes be more open to a switch between the pipes after such a fall? They’ve also consistently been the odd team out at Four Nations and underwhelming at the IIHF World Championships.
Goaltending hasn’t necessarily been the reason for their lackluster performance, but an infusion of new blood could spark something. Besides, Selander is used to playing behind a team that bleeds shots and needs low-scoring games to win.
Is This Ranking Too High or Too Low?
In fairness, ranking goaltenders relative to forwards or defenders is tricky. Goalies can be very fickle and their performance can vary greatly depending on the makeup of the roster protecting their net.
As a result, goaltenders tend to peak at around no. 9 or 10 on these lists, with the exception of that time Maddie Rooney placed second in 2018 for, well, obvious reasons. But even Rooney has tumbled down to no. 18 this year after a fine senior season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. When you’ve already dominated the Olympics and won Gold, everything else almost seems pedestrian. Harsh and a bit unfair, but such is hockey and such is life.
The fun bit is that Selander is only just unlocking her full potential. True, she already has plenty of experience, but she’s finally on a team that can score for her. It’s only a matter of time before she hoists an Isobel Cup. She already was just a game away before the shutdown. It’s all gravy from here.
It’s arguable that her positional dominance relative to the rest of the field should earn her a spot at around no. 6 or 7, but there’s precedent for her present ranking. For now, it’s just a matter of waiting for what incredible feat Selander feels like pulling off next.