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Top 100 Goalies: A look at the 10 best women's keepers of all-time

The Olympics are the grandest stage, but performance throughout the women's hockey world weigh into our ranking of the best women's goaltenders of all-time.

Manon Rheaume is widely considered the most influential goalie in women’s hockey history. Her appearances with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 and 1993 NHL pre-seasons established her place in the game’s lore, and she became an icon and inspiration for a generation of young women with dreams of playing at the highest level.

Rheaume, however, didn’t make the cut when we assembled our list of the 10 best women’s hockey goalies. While her accomplishments are historic and she broke barriers, her longevity and overall resume – which includes two World Championship crowns and one Olympic silver medal – wasn’t quite enough for Rheaume, now 46, to crack a tough top-10 field that is filled stem to stern with legends, past and present, of the women’s game.

The difficulty in assembling such a list comes in the methodology. Do college accolades matter? How do the NWHL and CWHL of yesteryear compare to the current Canadian and American products? How does one weight international play? And how can we accurately measure the performance of netminders from powerhouse North American nations against that of European keepers? With help from a panel of former players, we’ve done our best to answer those questions and assemble the definitive list of the 10 greatest stoppers in the women’s game:

Szabados’ trek from relative unknown to household name took three games.

At the 2010 Olympics, having never played on a major international stage, she put together a performance for the ages, stopping all but one shot in three games and blanking the opposition over her final 140 minutes in the Canadian crease. A superstar was born, and Szabados grew her legend in her next four international appearances with World Championship gold, two silvers and another Olympic gold, the latter paired with a tournament-best goals-against average and save percentage.

Her debut Olympic performance alone could put her on this list, but it’s the very thing that makes her greatness difficult to quantify that vaults her to the top. While other women have played against men, no woman has ever been as successful as Szabados, who has spent the majority of her career suiting up in men’s leagues.

Beyond becoming the first woman to play in the Alberta Jr. A League and in the WHL and spending her post-junior career in the Alberta collegiate circuit, where she backstopped Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to the 2012-13 CCAA title, Szabados made headlines by becoming the first woman to play in the Southern Pro League. There she proved her mettle and spent consecutive seasons as a split-time starter in North America’s fourth-tier men’s league. However, Szabados’ SPHL tenure coincided with her exiting the Team Canada crease.

Upon stepping back from the men’s league in 2016, though, Szabados took her rightful place in the Canadian goal in preparation for the 2018 Olympics. Szabados, 32, cemented her legacy by posting a breathtaking 1.20 goals-against average, .949 save percentage and nearly dragging an overmatched Canadian side to another Olympic gold. And though Canada fell short, Szabados made history, becoming the first woman to be twice named the top goalie at the Olympics.

In terms of dominance against her peers, Raty is the greatest goaltender Finland has ever produced.

Raty started Olympic games at 16, stole World Championship bronze at 18 and began rewriting the NCAA record book with the University of Minnesota by the time she was 20. She left college with two national titles and as the all-time leader in wins, shutouts and SP. Raty was the first female stopper to play in the Finnish League’s second and third tiers and set the CWHL ablaze in 2017-18, winning top-goalie honors with the expansion Kunlun Red Star.

Her World Championship resume includes four top-goalie awards and four bronze medals, and Raty, 29, also has two Olympic bronzes. One of the great what-ifs in international women’s hockey is to what heights Raty could climb behind a roster as deep as those iced by Canada or Team USA.

Debuting at the 1999 World Championship, St-Pierre backstopped Canada’s national team to the top of the podium, and that’s where she remained for five consecutive major tournaments. St-Pierre bordered on unbeatable, appearing in 16 games across the five tournaments, posting a .953 SP and winning top-goalie honors at the 2002 Olympics and 2001 and 2004 worlds. By the time St-Pierre, now 39, retired in 2013, she had added two more Olympic golds to her trophy case, along with one more World Championship gold and four silvers.

While she was staying golden with Team Canada, St-Pierre was also standing tall in the Canadian university ranks. Suiting up for the McGill Martlets, St-Pierre won rookie of the year, MVP and most outstanding player honors during her CIS career. When her time with the Martlets was up, St-Pierre transitioned briefly to McGill’s men’s team, becoming the first woman to win a men’s CIS game.

Despite never suiting up in the Olympics – she was a final cut in 1998 – and never capturing a gold medal during her tenure as Team USA’s starter, Whitten is regarded as the best women’s goalie in American hockey history. She was a standout at the University of New Hampshire who burst onto the radar when she backstopped Team USA to silver at the 1992 worlds. Before her playing days were through, Whitten added three more World Championship silvers and picked up top-goalie honors at the 1994 tournament.

Whitten, now 47, broke barriers, and, along with Rheaume, was one of the predecessors for netminders such as Szabados and Raty, who have plied their trade in men’s pro leagues. After completing her college career, Whitten became the first woman to play in each of the Central League, East Coast League and Colonial League.

Labonte, 36, has one of the most crowded trophy cases among women’s goalies.

Not only did she guide Canada to the 2006 Olympic gold by allowing just one goal in three games, Labonte finished atop the Olympic podium on two more occasions, in 2010 and 2014, and filled out her international resume with a pair of world golds and six silvers.

Labonte didn’t stop there. She guided the Montreal Axiom to a title in the original NWHL, won a CWHL title with Les Canadiennes de Montreal and was a two-time Clarkson Cup MVP and CWHL goalie of the year.

It should come as no surprise Labonte is among the most dominant stoppers the Canadian university game has seen. Throughout her 174-game career at McGill, Labonte lost only 16 times while amassing 78 shutouts to go along with a .947 SP and 1.00 GAA.

Labonte also suited up for 28 games in the QMJHL over two seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Schelling, 29, became a Swiss hockey icon and two-time Swiss Ice Hockey woman of the year by repeatedly leading the nation to its greatest on-ice successes. Her brilliant run from 2011 to 2014 saw Schelling win World Championship and Olympic bronze, two top-goalie honors, and she was named best goalie and MVP of the 2014 Olympics.

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she starred for four years, Martin made waves internationally with bronzes at the Olympics and the worlds, but she stole the show at the 2006 Olympics. Martin, 32, led Sweden to a semifinal upset over the U.S. and was named top goalie for her silver-medal showing.

The inaugural Olympic women’s hockey tournament was Tueting’s coming-out party. Previously a backup, she captured the crease and led Team USA to gold with an incredible 1.15 GAA and .938 SP. The starting job was Tueting’s to lose for the next four years, during which she claimed three silver medals: two at the World Championship and one at the Olympics.

Phillips, 58, is a two-time world champion, but she made her greatest mark on the women’s game in the Central Ontario Women’s League in the 1980s and early ’90s. She was named the circuit’s top goalie on 14 occasions and was twice named the league MVP. At the Canadian national level, she led Ontario to four golds, one silver and two bronzes over a nine-year span.

Four seasons in the NCAA resulted in three national titles. Vetter was unbeatable at Wisconsin and a big-game stopper. She won two Olympic silvers as a starter and captured six world golds. No American women’s goalie has more major international experience. Vetter, 32, is Team USA’s all-time leader in World Championship and Olympic games played.


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