Two-time NWHL MVP and points-leader Brianna Decker. Photo by Michelle Jay.
The second season of the National Women’s Hockey League taught us many things. The season taught us to never, ever count out anyone, any player throughout the lineup can take over a game, you’re not done until the scoreboard says you’re done, and as always, that hockey is a beautiful game.
We would be remiss, though, if we did not look back on the 2016-17 season with a statistical eye, and see what surprises there where in the League during a season that was truly full of them.
Let’s kick it off with the goalies, and Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA):
The Boston Pride had a problem that every coach, GM, and team in the world would love to have; they had two dominant goalies.
However, it was Katie Fitzgerald, slated as the Riveters third-string goalie when the year began, who stole the show between the pipes this season, winning Goalie of the Year. Fitzgerald was a calming, and at times, dominant presence between the pipes for the Riveters. Saving nearly half a goal per game above average expectation while facing the 4th most shots against per game, Fitzgerald was a force for the Riveters.
At the end of the year, though, it was Brianne McLaughlin who stole the show in the finals against the Pride making 60 (yes, SIXTY) saves in the final game. If you had seen some of McLaughlin’s work throughout the year, this performance comes as no surprise.
Moving on to the skaters, now…
Before we look at point totals, I want to take a look at shot totals.
The league, for the second year in a row, was tormented by Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight. Playing on the same line for the Pride, you knew that the puck was likely going to be in the offensive end when they were on the ice.
Also have to shout out Megan Bozek her, averaging just under 4 shots on goal per game for the Beauts as a defensemen. She finished the season just behind teammates Kelley Steadman and Shiann Darkangelo who ranked 4th and 5th respectively.
Interesting to note that there are no Riveters who made the cut here, as they had a bit more of a spread out offensive game.
Now, for the point totals:
Here we have all skaters who recorded 10 or more points on the season. First off, we have to give a major shoutout to Amanda Kessel and Hilary Knight for appearing on this list despite playing in only 8 and 10 games respectively.
Decker reigns supreme at the top of the league, joined by teammate Alex Carpenter, who took the league by storm in her rookie year. Joining Carpenter as the league’s top rookies are Haley Skarupa, Amanda Kessel, Rebecca Russo, Miye D’Oench, and Courtney Burke. Four of the Riveters six top scorers were rookies, so the future is certainly bright in New York.
What we really see here, though, is the league’s elite making their mark. Names like Decker, Carpenter, Duggan, Stack, Knight, Marvin, and Darkangelo are staples on this list.
But how about Janine Weber, a top-3 point-getter in the league this year! Weber is no stranger to appearing on the scoresheet. In the league’s first-year, Weber recorded 9 points in 18 games. Weber was able to more than double her point total from last year, accounting for 22 points, and adding one more in the Riveters only playoff game.
Finally, the league-wide distribution of talent this year made for some great parity, and of course, some legendary playoff and regular season battles. Every team in the league is represented by at least six players who recorded 10 or more points, a true testament to the league-wide talent.
To top it off and end the season, we’ve got goal and assist splits by team to follow.
See everyone next season!