Photo By Troy Parla
There’s no question that playing goalie in hockey is one of the hardest jobs in sports. It obviously takes a special breed to play the position and at each level, it’s continually the best of the best, more so than at other positions in the sport. In the NHL there are 31 starting goalies, and 31 backups, while their rosters are littered with forwards and defenders. Throughout the first three seasons of the NWHL’s existence the four teams have each carried three goalies, so if that stays the same with the addition of the Minnesota Whitecaps there will be only 15 spots for goalies throughout the league.
The starters in the NWHL are elite. The best of the best and that was especially proven this past season where all four starting goaltenders played in the lion’s share of games. Sydney Rossman of the Connecticut Whale and Amanda Leveille of the Buffalo Beauts became the first two goalies in the history of the league to start in all of their team’s games in a regular season, both starting in 16 games. Katie Fitzgerald started 15 games for the Isobel Cup champion Metropolitan Riveters and Boston’s Brittany Ott started 13 and is the league’s all-time leader in games played for a goaltender (43).
Despite Rossman’s durability the Whale had a dismal record in their third season and were unable to score enough goals to keep pace with the other three teams. The recently turned 23-year-old netminder kept her team in so many games throughout her rookie campaign, including the semifinal playoff game that was 2-0 in the Riveters’ favor halfway through the third period.
“Syd is the type of teammate you want to have on your team, you know she’ll always bring her A-Game,” said Rossman’s teammate in Connecticut, Juana Baribeau. “She works hard day-in and day-out and is always looking for extra ice time to work on her skills. We didn’t always make it easy for her this season, but every game she came to the rink ready to go, no matter the outcome of the previous week, and that’s what I love about her!”
Recently I checked in with the Minnesota native to see how she’s been keeping busy during the long offseason as well as her feelings on the past season, the upcoming season, and the league’s newest addition.
NWHL First off, congratulations on graduating recently! What was your major at Quinnipiac University?
Sydney Rossman Thank you! My undergrad was marketing and I just finished up my MBA this year. I’m done with school for good, which is nice. For now at least. Obviously, I’m still going to play hockey and I’ll figure out the rest from there.
NWHL So what does Sydney Rossman’s summer schedule look like?
Sydney Rossman I’m in Minnesota, actually on my way to go skate right now. I moved back in with my parents and I’ve been looking around for some summer job type stuff and just hanging out. Living the dream!
NWHL You started in all 16 of your team’s games. How comfortable were you with that workload?
Sydney Rossman It was fine. I was able to adjust quickly, coming fresh off a college season where I played around 30 games. Obviously, that’s a different workload because of the college life. This is a different lifestyle being more in the real world and playing. It was a pretty easy adjustment and having those two practices a week was a good about to be able to get enough shots, but also enough to be able to get the other stuff that I needed to get done and be ready for the games on the weekend.
NWHL Did you know that those 16 games that you played in leave you one shy of the Whale franchise all-time record for goalies? (Nicole Stock, 17)
Sydney Rossman Oh wow! Good to know!
NWHL Obviously, your overall record wasn’t great but anyone who watched you play knows you had a really nice season and that a lot of nights you kept your team in games. What did you learn about yourself?
Sydney Rossman We definitely had some ups and downs in our season and it was frustrating going onto games and leaving with those final results. All but three times. I think we had three wins on the season. At the end of the day, we came out and worked hard every game and realistically that’s what matters. Especially in a league where everyone makes the playoffs. So in my mind, I wasn’t focused totally on the results, but more on getting better each game and giving my team the best chance to win in each game. I would obviously like to have a few of those goals back - especially in those 6-1, 6-0 losses. But we played hard in every game and at the end of the day, that’s what counts.
Photo By Matthew Raney Photography
NWHL Do you watch a lot of video of yourself? Is that something that helps you a lot in your preparation?
Sydney Rossman Yeah, I watch it almost immediately after the game. If it’s not up yet I try to find the Twitter posts or go back on the live streams. I’ve even, maybe I don’t want to admit this, but I’ve even looked between period at goals I’ve let in - which maybe I shouldn’t try to do and just flush it. It helps me know what I can improve on, or for that team maybe they capitalized on a good opportunity and I can adjust to it. Or I can say hey I need to move on and just focus on the game.
NWHL In the playoffs you played great again, keeping your team only down by two goals halfway through the third period in the semifinal game. Following that loss did you watch the Isobel Cup Final at all the following weekend?
Sydney Rossman I did watch it. I just think it’s a cool…it’s something I didn’t want to miss out on and obviously I would have rather been playing in it. But it was still a cool experience to watch and both of those teams totally deserved to be in that game. It was a fun, entertaining game and as upset that I was that we weren’t in it, yeah, I still watched it.
NWHL You did get to play in the NWHL All-Star Game in your home state of Minnesota, and you got the win! How cool was that whole weekend experience for you?
Sydney Rossman That was an awesome weekend. Not only just for the league, but I think for women’s hockey in general. The weekend was super fun, I had a ton of family and friends around which was awesome. I got to show my Whale friends like Kelly Babstock, Sam Faber, Amanda Boulier the roots of where I grew up and that was fun to be able to introduce them to my family. It was just such a cool weekend and I was really honored to be a part of it.
Photo By Matthew Raney Photography
NWHL I know as a goalie it’s cool to hang out with and get to know the other goalies too, right?
Sydney Rossman Yeah (laughs) it was fun to establish those connections. Brittany Ott was on my team and I didn’t really know her before. Now we’re really good friends. I knew (Amanda) Leveille and (Katie) Fitzgerald a little bit better than Ott just because I played with them, but I didn’t know Ott at all really other than playing against her. It was cool to play with her and she’s a great goalie. It was a fun weekend.
NWHL What are your thoughts on the NWHL adding the Minnesota Whitecaps?
Sydney Rossman I think it’s awesome. I think it’s really exciting that they were able to pull that off and add a team so far away (from the other four teams). I think there really couldn’t be a better place to add an NWHL team. Obviously, it’s the State of Hockey and all of the girls that grow up playing here and even play for the Minnesota Gophers or St. Cloud, and then they stick around their hometown and don’t really know what to do. Unlike me where I came to the east coast and that was my home for a little bit. I think it’s really cool that Minnesota was able to pull that off and join the league and I think from here it will only get better.
NWHL As we look forward to next season, what are some of your goals? If you do play, of course! Is it going to be Connecticut, or is Minnesota on the table for you now too?
Sydney Rossman I’m not totally sure on my plan yet in general, I’m kind of taking it day-by-day. But I for sure want to play again. Obviously, the Connecticut Whale is my home and that’s a team that I really enjoyed playing with this year. The Minnesota team is going to be awesome as well and I don’t know exactly who those goalies are that are going to be trying out for them and whatnot. For me, I’m just taking it day-to-day and I still want to play no matter what. The next step for me is training during the summer and waiting for that free agency period to start (June 1) and see what happens.
NWHL You mentioned training and I know you’re heading to do some now. What are some things you maybe do on a day like today?
Sydney Rossman Usually I plan my workouts in the morning and then I skate probably only like twice a week in the summer. I’m actually headed to Stauber’s Goal Crease right now (in Edina, MN) which is where I train with some old high school teammates. I’ll probably start to get a little bit busier work-wise as the summer goes on. But for now I’m trying to get up earlier and workout, then skate later in the day.