Shea Tiley has quickly emerged as one of Team Sonnet’s most valuable players and all signs point to her getting the start in tomorrow’s title game against Team Bauer. After 120 minutes of hockey, Tiley has posted a .902 save percentage against a workload of 30.5 SA60. Those are solid numbers but they don’t tell the whole story of just how good she has been in her two starts. Let’s dive in.
Limited opportunities to practice for Team Sonnet (and Team Scotiabank) have led to a lot of defensive breakdowns. Those breakdowns have resulted in the speedy Team Bauer enjoying plenty of rushes and breakaways. As one might suspect, giving up breakaways to the likes of Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey can be disastrous.
“Our first game against Montréal was the first game for most people in over a year because of COVID,” Tiley told the media on Thursday. “We were a little rusty with our habits and the details.”
What has stood out the most about Tiley’s performance thus far is her performance against high-quality chances that her team has given up to Team Bauer, especially at evens. While it’s true that she’s given up two shorthanded goals she has also cleaned up a lot of her team’s messes and defensive breakdowns. Most importantly, Tiley’s allowed just one even-strength goal in her two starts. Her coming away from her first two starts with a win and a .902 Sv% is much more impressive when you remember that Team Sonnet has barely had an opportunity to practice together.
It was Tiley’s steady play at evens that helped Team Sonnet exact revenge on Team Bauer on Thursday. “Shea played unreal,” Team Sonnet forward Victoria Bach told the media after the win. “She stood on her head. Some of the saves she made — we were all pretty hyped up on the bench.”
In her two showdowns against Montréal, Tiley got to see plenty of shots and chances. You could see her confidence grow with each period she got under her belt. If there is room for improvement for her and Team Sonnet’s defense anywhere, it’s at special teams.
Generally speaking, it is hard to fault goalies for allowing goals while their team is shorthanded. Still, Team Bauer has a 27.7% success rate on the power play on 11 opportunities against team Sonnet when Tiley is in the net. Again, Team Bauer has a big advantage at special teams because they’ve been able to practice together but Team Sonnet’s penalty killers, including TIley, need to be better when they’re down a skater. That will be something they need to focus on in tomorrow’s title game.
Of course, her biggest save thus far in the 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour came in the final minute of that win on Thursday when her team was shorthanded. Roughly 20 seconds after allowing a 5-on-3 power-play goal to Poulin, Tiley robbed Sarah Lefort with half a minute left in regulation to preserve her team’s one-goal lead. All the chips were on the table and Tiley came up with a clutch save when her team needed it most.
“Yeah [my teammates] were pretty excited,” Tiley said recalling the big stop. “I had a little help from Claire Thomspon, though. I have to give her a big shoutout, she helped me out there.”
Shea Tiley for Team Sonnet. A game-saving stop in the final minute defending a one-goal lead. As clutch as it gets. pic.twitter.com/D0NWFhOwxc— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) May 27, 2021
A stop like that can do wonders for the confidence not just of a goalie but her entire team. Right now, Tiley looks confident. If she gets into a groove and gets the start on Sunday, Team Sonnet should have every chance it needs to come away with an unforgettable victory. They already know they can beat Team Bauer with Tiley between the pipes.
Data courtesy of TheirHockeyCounts.com, Sportlogiq, and the PWHPA.