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Ranking the best NWHL goaltending set-ups

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Granted the freedom to design their goaltending gear, hockey goalies can be some of the most fashionable players on the ice. We took a look at the top five best set-ups in NWHL history.

Pat McCarthy

Goalies have routinely proven themselves as some of the most fashionable players on the ice — given their built-in canvas of a set of pads, a glove, and blocker, this designation should come as no surprise to most hockey fans.

When our first look at Samantha Ridgewell’s new Toronto Six-themed set-up hit the Internet on Thursday, we knew there was only one choice for how to proceed.

Presenting: a comprehensive ranking of the best goaltending set-ups in NWHL history (with recency bias).

Honorable Mentions

Shannon Szabaods, NWHL All-Star Weekend (18-19)

Coming in outside of the top five but still deserving an honorable mention is the purple Warrior gear former Buffalo Beauts net minder Shannon Szabados debuted at the NWHL’s All-Star Weekend in Nashville in 2019. While simple, the bold stripe of purple down both pads and across Szabados’ blocker makes the set-up effortlessly unique. Since the gear was only worn once, it’s hard to qualify it as deserving of a spot in the top five, but there’s no way we were leaving it out.

Basically, I created the “honorable mention” category exclusively for this set-up, but it’s more than deserving of this, at least.

Michelle Jay

Katie Fitzgerald, Kimberly Sass, Sarah Bryant, Metropolitan Riveters/PWHPA/OneThree35 Goaltending (19-20)

Okay, technically I don’t think all three of these set-ups saw ice time during the players’ respective NWHL careers, but there’s no way we were leaving them off this list. Between Katie Fitzgerald’s all-white pads with the red laces and accents and Kimberly Sass’s red, white, and black pillows and Sarah Bryant’s striped set-up...there’s so much to love about this trio of trendy tendies.

Also, I’ve gotta hand it to Sass for the Rosie decal on her pads. Talk about reppin’ the Riveters.

5. Amanda Leveille, Minnesota Whitecaps (18-19, 19-20)

Amanda Leveille has been on top of the gear game since she debuted as one third of the best goaltending trio in Buffalo (R.I.P. McLevMan), but it’s her royal blue gear (complete with a trio of fishy friends on each pad and blocker) that she debuted as the cornerstone of the Whitecaps that makes her deserving of spot #5 on our list.

As arguably the most unique and personalized set of pads on this list, you might argue Leveille’s 18-19 and 19-20 set-up deserves more love. You’d probably be right. I’m not perfect.

Michelle Jay

4. Samantha Ridgewell, Toronto Six (20-21)

Ah, yes. The set-up that inspired this article.

I mean, honestly, this is the kind of gear that dreams are made of. I would have been wary of a set-up with this color palette from the get go, but after seeing the effortless combination of black, gold, red, and white in a way that doesn’t interfere with the complexity of the Six logo? Sam Ridgewell has seriously impressed me, and she hasn’t even started a game between the pipes yet.

Ridgewell pictured left

3. Sonjia Shelly, Connecticut Whale (19-20)

Look, the me of the past would never have ranked Sonjia Shelly’s set-up this high, but the me of the past was wrong. I mean, when you consider that Shelly wears CCM (a brand with a history of commitment to advancing women’s hockey), has color-coordinated her extraneous gear with her stick and mask, and the fact that the Whale’s color scheme kind of just slaps in general? This set-up is the very definition of elite, and Shelly knows it.

Unfortunately, with Shelly repping the Riveters logo and colors next season, this Whale-themed gear has likely gone into retirement.

2. Victoria Hanson, Boston Pride (19-20)

Put away your soap and hand wipes, because Victoria Hanson is redefining CLEAN.

Seriously, whoever said black pads weren’t a defining characteristic of an elite goaltender (and yes, I have receipts on who blasphemed) was wrong, because Hanson went 6-0 last season and capped off her rookie season with a .919 SV% and 1.97 GAA...not that we’re here to debate goalie statistics, because we’re not.

Anyways, our point stands that Hanson’s black pads with a pop of gold work really well in conjunction with the predominantly black mask. The black adds a hint of something sinister that we got to witness on the ice from the Pride too, so bonus points to Hanson and her designers for that one.

Also: pawprints.

Michelle Jay

1. Shannon Szabados, Buffalo Beauts (18-19)

Coming in first with arguably the freshest set-up to ever be worn onto NWHL ice is Shannon Szabados’ 2018-19 gear. I mean, come on.

Obviously, there’s something to be said for the fact that a good portion of this set-up’s magic is carried by the Beauts’ color scheme, but I’m pretty confident that the stripey minimalist action going on would slap hard no matter the color. There’s something so effortless and easy on the eyes about the muted black and white underscored by the pop of Beauts blue at the bottom — and when you combine that with the blue branding and logos, sheesh. Szabados really did not spare the competition.

Michelle Jay