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Record-setting keeper Selander has sights on becoming fixture in Sweden's crease

She posted some of the best numbers in NCAA history and finished her career with more stops than any netminder in Division I history, and now Lovisa Selander is setting her sights on taking over the crease for Team Sweden.
Courtesy RPI

Courtesy RPI

One thousand, five hundred and sixty-two pounds.

At six ounces per puck, and 16 ounces per pound, that’s how much rubber Lovisa Selander kicked aside throughout her four-year stay at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her 4,167 saves set the all-time NCAA record for women’s hockey, eclipsing Nicole Hensley’s unofficial record of 4,094 saves and pushing Selander well clear of the 3,809 stops Brianne McLaughlin made to own the official mark. Measured against the entire field, men’s and women’s netminders, only Robbie Moore’s 4,434 saves exceed Selander’s total.

“It does sound like a lot,” Selander laughed. “Some weekends you look back and you feel a little tired on a Monday, and my teammates are like, ‘Yeah, you got a lot of shots against you.’”

Talk about an understatement. This past season, Selander faced an NCAA-high 1,308 shots and turned aside 1,232 throughout the campaign, the third-highest single-season total in league history. And despite her workload, Selander posted a career-best .942 save percentage. By no means was that a one-off performance, though. Her career .933 SP on nearly 4,500 shots puts some serious weight behind the assertion that her tenure has been one of the best in college hockey history.

What makes Selander, 23, a unique netminder is her combination of size, skill and smarts. At 5-foot-11, she is one of the rangier keepers in the college ranks. Add her skates and equipment to the equation and she covers a lot of net. Then comes the raw ability, the quickness and agility she showcases when stymying opposing shooters. And then there’s the mental aspects, such as her ability to read the play and her pure poise. Though, said RPI assistant Tara Connolly, a former goaltender and Selander’s goaltending coach, her cool-headedness wasn’t always a positive attribute.

“Everything is always a double-edged sword,” Connolly said. “Your greatest strength is sometimes your weakness, and we found that she was so poised that we had to get a little more battle into her on pucks around the crease and covering and things like that because she is so patient and a lot of the play comes to her.”

More than anything, though, what stands out to Connolly is Selander’s attitude, the quiet confidence that she exudes and uses to inspire her teammates. By admittance, Selander has never been “the loud one in the room.” She’s also never flashy, never braggadocios and always chooses substance over style. It’s that brand of reserved leadership that made Selander a beloved pupil and peer. Her work ethic was second to none, too, with Connolly praising the effort Selander put into her conditioning during the off-season and the way in which she returned for her senior season in what may very well have been the best shape of her life. And Selander’s efforts – on- and off-ice – were recongized ahead of the campaign when she was selected by her teammates and coaching staff as RPI captain.

“She’s got a 3.4 GPA in the toughest major (chemical engineering) on campus,” Connolly said. “She’s real mature, goes about everything the right way, she represents what we value in our program. I think that’s a great place to start for leadership and it was pretty much unanimous that our team looks to her when they want to take the lead on what they should be doing, how they should be acting, what the standard is for achieving.”

Those achievements were numerous this season, too. Beyond setting the NCAA saves record, Selander backstopped her eighth-ranked team to a shutout victory over top-seed Cornell, making RPI the first eight-seed to beat a one-seed in women’s ECAC playoff history. Selander also earned herself a first-team all-star nod, the first RPI player in program history to receive the honor, and was named ECAC goaltender of the year as well as a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award.

The greatest accomplishment, though, was a chance to compete internationally for the first time in her career. Selander got the call to Sweden’s 4 Nations Cup roster in November. “Ever since I was a little kid, I pictured myself in that jersey at some point,” Selander said. “So taking that step and getting to wear it for a game was huge. Now the battle is to make myself a common name on the national team.”

And that process seems to be well under way. After her performance at 4 Nations – she saw action once, stopping 46 of 52 shots in a loss to Team Canada – and her stunning college season, Selander got the call again, this time taking the biggest step of her career and earning a spot on the Swedish World Championship squad. Selander enters the tournament, which begins Thursday in Espoo, Finland, as the projected second-stringer behind veteran Sara Grahn.

With her college career over, though, where will the game take her once the Worlds come to a close? Selander has the answer. Drafted 20th overall by the NWHL’s Boston Pride in 2018, she has her sights set on beginning her career in engineering in or around Boston next season and stepping into the blue paint for the Pride when the start of the 2019-20 campaign rolls around. There, she wants to fine-tune her game, tweak where she needs to and find her place as a permanent fixture in the national team crease.

“My biggest dream overall is to go to the Olympics, so my plan is, for the next three years, to do everything I can to become a better goalie,” Selander said. “My plan is to stay in the U.S. and keep playing in Boston, and just play against the best players in the world and keep working at it.”

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