Four goalies, one gold
by Andrew Podnieks|04 JUN 2021
Team USA goaltender Cal Petersen leads all goaltenders in save percentage at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
We started with 16 teams and three registered goalies per team less than two weeks ago, but now that the final four teams have been established, coaches have whittled their goalies down to one main man who will likely see their teams through the rest of the way. This has been a low-scoring tournament. There have been 13 shutouts in 60 games and only 318 goals scored, an average of 5.3 per game. As well, four games were settled in overtime and six more in a shootout. Goalies have been a major part of the story this year, and they are sure to continue to be over the final four games of the weekend when the medals are handed out. Here are the starters who hope to carry their teams to glory.

Canada/Darcy Kuemper
IIHF resume: 2018 WM 4th place
This year: 6GP--343:58 mins—13 GA—0 SO—2.27 GAA—90.23 SVS%
Comments: Kuemper got off to a rocky start. His gaffe behind the net led to Latvia’s first goal in the opening game of a 2-0 loss, and he was pulled after allowing four goals against the U.S. in game two. Adin Hill got the start next time, but since then Kuemper has played every minute and been more and more reliable to the point he has been the team’s best player after the top line of Adam Henrique-Connor Brown-Andrew Mangiapane. Kuemper made his NHL debut in early 2013 and this year with Arizona had a 10-11-3 record in 27 games. 

Finland/Jussi Olkinuora
IIHF resume: 2019 WM gold
This year: 5 GP—305:00 mins—6 GA—1 SO—1.18 GAA—95.00 SVS%
Comments: A decade ago Olkinuora tried to make it in the NHL, attending the University of Denver and then playing minor pro in North America. When that didn’t work out, he opted to play in Finland, and for the last two years he has been in the KHL. At 6’2”/188cm and 201 lbs./91 kg, he is a big body in the crease but moves well and plays the angles well. Coach Jukka Jalonen has used him for most of the important games, and Olkinuora has responded. He has won all five games he’s played, notably a 2-1 win over the U.S. to start, a 3-2 win over Canada in the penalty-shot shootout, and most recently against the Czechs in the quarter-finals where he stopped all 28 shots in a 1-0 victory.

Germany/Mathias Niederberger
IIHF resume: 2018 WM 11th, 2019 WM 6th
This year: 6 GP—365:31 mins—10 GA—0 SO—1.64 GAA—93.43 SVS%
Comments: The 28-year-old played junior with the Barrie Colts for two years and briefly in the AHL and ECHL, but most of his career has been in the DEL in his homeland. Coach Toni Soderholm has relied extensively on him here in Riga, playing him is six of the team’s eight games. Niederberger has responded with four wins. Highlights include stopping 39 of 40 shots in a 3-1 win over Canada and a 2-1 win over Latvia to secure the team’s place in the quarter-finals. He then was the winning goalie in the first playoff game, a 3-2 win in the penalty-shot shootout against rivals Switzerland. 

United States/Cal Petersen
IIHF resume: 2017 WM third goalie/DNP
This year: 5 GP—298:14 mins—5 GA—2 SO—1.01 GAA—96.06 SVS%
Comments: There was a scary moment for Anthony Stolarz early in the United States-Canada game when he jammed his right skate hard against the post and had to leave the game. That was the end of the tournament for him, but Cal Petersen took on a more important role and has been virtually unbeatable since. In eight games, the Americans have allowed 2, 1, 0, 2, 1, 0, 2, 1 goals against, just nine in eight games. Petersen’s defence has been sensational in front of him, and he has had to face only 127 shots in five games, an average of 25 a game. Petersen was drafted 129th overall by Buffalo in 2013, and ended his college career after three years at Notre Dame to turn pro. He worked his way up through the AHL to the NHL and had a 9-18-5 record in 35 games with the L.A. Kings this past year.