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CWHL/NWHL Round-up: Nov. 28 – Nov. 29

CWHL/NWHL Round-up: Nov. 28 – Nov. 29

We are now approximately a third of the way through the season for both leagues. Most of the teams of the  CWHL have played 10 out of 24 games (Les Canadiennes have played eight) and the NWHL has played 6 of their eighteen. We are starting to get a clearer picture of exactly what each team really is. There’s still time for things to change — last season the Montreal (then) Stars went on a tear after the New Year and turned from a middling team dependent on stellar goaltending to a team with a potent offensive attack. But we can somewhat tell who is generally good and who is generally struggling.

With respect to the goaltenders, too, we have a general sense of what each player is bringing to the table each week. There are still a few players we haven’t seen much of, but the picture’s definitely starting to clarify.

We did see some new faces: Jenny Scrivens and Sonja van der Bliek both made their debuts. And there have been a rash of injuries that will affect the goaltending pool over the coming games.

In past editions of this post, statistics have been drawn from and, with some reconstruction work done by hand. However, there seem to be some ongoing issues with the NWHL’s official game sheets, which in turn bleeds over into their PointStreak statistics site. These stats are simply incorrect far more frequently than they should be.

For instance, in this week’s Connecticut Whale – New York Riveters game, the official box score credited the Whale with 19 total shots on goal, while the broadcast had them at 21 well before the end of the third period. This is only one error out of many, enough to make a number of people skeptical of the official counts. As a result I have decided to rely much less on those statistics unless I can confirm that they are at least reasonable. I will note where I get my numbers from as much as possible.

Three Stars, Nov. 28 – Nov. 29

3. Nana Fujimoto, New York Riveters (NWHL

This week’s second and third star are very close to being a tie. Fujimoto has been integral to the Riveters’ recent turnaround. She gave up only two goals on an official count of 31 shots, and without her the game could have been lost early on. She is quick, mobile, and reads plays well, but must improve her glove hand and core balance. She left this game early in the third period, presumably as a result of a collision in the second, though no word has come officially on that or her status. The Riveters seem to thrive on her being in the net, though, so they must hope she is able to return soon.

2. Jaimie Leonoff, Connecticut Whale (NWHL)

Leonoff may be the best goalie in the NWHL right now. She is an excellent tracker, positions herself well, and is able to scramble when needed. This week in facing the Boston Pride, she saw 41 shots according to the ESPN broadcast (42 by the official count), giving up 3 goals. The Pride were relentless in the third, especially, and the Whale defense appeared willing to rely on Leonoff to bail them out. She managed to weather the storm and hang on to keep the Whale undefeated on the season in a game where they were soundly outplayed.

1. Brianne McLaughlin, Buffalo Beauts (NWHL)

McLaughlin put up the first W for her Beauts against the New York Riveters. It was a masterful performance from the Olympic veteran, the best of the week across both leagues and McLaughlin’s best on the season. She officially faced 28 shots from the Riveters, saving 27 of them, and Buffalo needed every one of them to pull out the victory.

Keep an eye on:

  • Injuries
    As noted above, Nana Fujimoto was unable to finish Sunday’s game due to an undisclosed injury. Jenny Scrivens took over for the final 8 minutes. The Riveters have been without the services of Shenae Lundberg for a few weeks as well, as Lundberg has been out with a sprained knee. She is expected to start skating this week, although there has been no official word on her return to game action. Also out right now is the Whale’s Chelsea Laden (broken finger). Christina Kessler returned from injury for the Toronto Furies but only played one game.

  • Charline Labonte, Montreal Canadiennes (CWHL)
    At one point in Saturday’s game against Toronto, Labonte went seventeen minutes without seeing a single shot. It’s a change for her from last season, when Montreal gave up close to 30 shots a game. This year Labonte sees half that amount. As any goaltender will tell you, it can be much harder to manage your focus in games like that than in games where you are busy. Montreal are simply not allowing play in their defensive zone very often. It’s not an excuse for Labonte’s performance this season, merely a question about what factors in.

About The Author

Clare Austin

Clare Austin is a reluctant "stats nerd" living in Nashville, where she has never worn a cowboy hat or boots.

1 Comment

  1. Jessica de Haan

    Thanks so much for posting about CWHL/NWHL! It means so much to young girls in the sport… I know it might not be the most popular topic out there, but every league starts small and grows. I for one hope they merge the 2 leagues and televise more games as it will do wonders for a young girl’s self esteem to see international PRO FEMALE athletes doing what they love on national television 🙂