CWHL/NWHL Round Up: October 19-25
The week of October 19 – October 25 was a tough week to name three stars for. There were goalies who faced very tough workloads, goalies who improved, and goalies who quietly went about the business of stopping pucks. Once the numbers were in it was clear who should be the first star, but things got complicated after that. While I did decide on a final order, there are cases to be made for other players.
As always, statistics are drawn from CWHL.ca and NWHL.co. Discrepancies in the box scores for the NWHL’s Oct. 18 games mean that their statistics are currently inaccurate. This is especially tough for Connecticut’s Chelsea Laden, whose only start thus far has her credited with one goal against on one shot against, but other players are affected as well. I have removed those games and recalculated save percentages and other figures, but as it stands there is no way to recover Laden’s numbers.
Three Stars, Oct. 19 – Oct. 25
3. Christina Kessler, Toronto Furies (CWHL)
Kessler continues to sit near the top of the leaderboard for the Canadian league despite facing a much tougher workload this week against offensive powerhouse the Calgary Inferno. She is fourth in the league in save percentage and first in Goals Saved Above Average while seeing the second highest number of shots per 60 minutes. Three-quarters of her starts have been above league average and she has played more games than any other goalie except Genevieve Lacasse. She is simply quietly having another top season.
2. Nicole Stock, Connecticut Whale (CWHL)
Stock manned the net for the Whale’s third game, putting up a .958 save percentage on 24 shots. It was the best single performance of the week in the NWHL, and she saved her team more than a full goal above a league average performance. (GSAA of 1.14). It was essentially a game-saving effort as the Whale were only able to put two goals up on Nana Fujimoto.
1. Delayne Brian and Kathy Desjardins, Calgary Inferno (CWHL)
Brian and Desjardins split the Inferno’s season opening weekend and did very well. The Inferno are known as an offensive team, but the two goalies together stopped 38 of 41 shots for a team save percentage of .951, well above the league average of .929. Each has only played one game, so it is too soon to speculate about the season as a whole, but Inferno fans should like what they have seen so far.
Keep an eye on:
- The Connecticut Whale (NWHL)
The three goalies of the Whale–Chelsea Laden, Jaimie Leonoff, and Nicole Stock–lead the NWHL in every category. Or they would if Chelsea Laden had corrected stats. Whatever they’re putting in the water there, it’s working so far. They all look as good as their numbers. The Whale are the only NWHL team that has actually split time between goalies. It will be interesting to see if the Whale continue the rotation as the season goes on.
- Genevieve Lacasse, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Lacasse was under siege when facing the Brampton Thunder this week and her team was completely unable to give her any defensive support. Still her performance a bit dipped compared to last week. Fatigue, both mental and physical, is a potential concern for Lacasse and the Blades over the course of this season. This week shows what can happen to this team if Lacasse is not otherworldly. Overall, Lacasse has a .926 save percentage while facing 11 more shots per game than the nearest competitor. That sounds amazing but is just below the league average. Which leads us to…
- The CWHL’s league average
It’s high. Really, really high: .929 overall. It will go down (It was .904 last season), but in the meantime, consider that it’s very difficult to stand out in the CWHL at the moment.
The NWHL is on hiatus the next two weekends as Team USA players report to national team camp for the Four Nations Cup (Nov. 4-Nov. 8). The Four Nations Cup includes teams from the USA, Canada, Finland, and Sweden and is an annual part of the international schedule. Four of the CWHL teams will be in action this weekend; the Brampton Thunder are off and Erica Howe has been named to the Canada roster. Buffalo’s Brianne McLaughlin is rostered for the United States.
Information about the Four Nations Cup, including schedules and streaming options can be found on the USA Hockey website.