One of the most exciting young players in the game has rocketed up our rankings for 2020, after debuting as an honorable mention last year.
Fillier finished her sophomore year ranked eighth overall in scoring nationwide with 57 points, off of 22 goals and 35 assists. Her 1.84 points per game were second only to Wisconsin’s Daryl Watts. After winning both the ECAC and National Rookie of the Year Awards in 2018-19, it’s safe to say she followed up with an extremely successful sophomore campaign.
She was named a Second Team All-American and a Patty Kazmaier Top-10 Finalist for the second year in a row. Fillier was also named the All-Ivy League First Team and the All-ECAC First Team, and finished as a top-3 finalist for both the ECAC Player of the Year and ECAC Best Forward awards.
She served as a team captain for the Tigers, a notable honor considering she was just a sophomore. She was a formidable force all season long, but perhaps her best performances came in the ECAC playoffs, as she helped Princeton capture their first-ever conference championship. She scored the double-overtime, series-clinching goal in the quarterfinal round against Quinnipiac, added goals in both the semifinal and championship game, and finished with four goals and nine points en route to winning Most Outstanding Player honors.
Team Canada has one of the deepest pools of players in the entire world; you don’t make the senior team as an 18-year-old unless you can already play at a consistently elite level. That’s clearly true for Fillier, and that’s exactly why she made Canada’s 4 Nations squad back in November 2018.
When you look at what Fillier brings to the table, there isn’t just one part of her game that stands out as elite; it’s her entire skillset. Her vision, skating, hockey IQ, playmaking, and scoring prowess are all phenomenal in their own right, which makes her capable of producing goals every single time she’s on the ice. She’s very comfortable leading the way as a first line center, and she has a near-60% success rate in the faceoff circle. When she takes a shift, she usually stands out immediately from everyone else; this is despite skating next to two top-12 point-scorers in the nation on her own line, and regularly suiting up against Under-22 and senior national team prospects in the ECAC.
She makes it very difficult for opposing players to defend her, because she can beat them in a multitude of ways. Fillier is a super shifty player who protects the puck well; she can slip by defenders with near-effortless speed, or hunker down and out-muscle them to keep possession. She is a monster to go up against in the corners and in traffic, and she can create prime opportunities for herself and her teammates with the slimmest margins of space.
Here’s a look at Fillier helping to generate a goal right off a penalty kill for the Tigers, with good poise, speed through the neutral zone, and deft passing:
I wrote last year that Fillier has obvious game-breaking abilities; it’s clear after another full season that she has them in spades. She’s one of those rare players who can change the whole flow of a game on a dime, night in and night out. Here’s a look at her scoring a bonkers goal in the second period of a winner-take-all game three in the ECAC quarterfinals, to get Princeton on the board:
6' left, 2nd period | #6 Princeton 1, #10 Quinnipiac 0— Princeton Hockey (@PWIH) March 1, 2020
TOP SHELF! TIGERS UP!
Sarah Fillier scores to give Princeton the lead in this winner-take-all @ecachockey quarterfinal Game 3!
Watch the game here: https://t.co/fiT2Ed9EOb pic.twitter.com/pD0llcha9y
She’s been one of the very best college players in the country since she first hit the ice at Hobey Baker, and she’ll be just as important a player for Team Canada in the near future. Fillier would have gotten the chance to represent Canada at her first World Championship this spring, if the tournament had not been canceled. She figures to be a go-to player for the senior team for a long time to come.
Is This Ranking Too High or Too Low?
I personally have Fillier slotted a bit higher in my rankings, but No. 6 on the list is nothing to sneeze at. She’s a very talented player who’s already made a major difference for her team at the NCAA level, and I don’t believe she’s hit her full potential yet. She is 100% deserving of this spot, and I would expect her to move up into the top-five going forward.