Year of the goalie
by Andrew Podnieks|30 AUG 2021
Saskia Maurer was the main reason the Swiss qualified for the semi-finals.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
There have been some close games at the Women’s Worlds…and some blow outs. Some physical hockey, and wide-open play. But through virtually each and every game so far, there has been sensational goaltending right across the board. So with All-Star Team voting just around the corner, not to mention IIHF Directorate Award considerations, let’s take a look back at the best performances so far at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.

Saskia Maurer (SUI): Maurer entered the Switzerland-ROC game midway through the first after a poor start, and hurled a bagel the rest of the way, stopping all 28 shots she faced as the Swiss roared back to win, 3-2, in overtime. Maurer means in her language brick layer, somebody who builds a wall, and that’s what she did. No Maurer, no medal chance.

Klara Peslarova (CZE): It’s impossible to pinpoint one game in Peslarova’s resume in Calgary. Rather, it’s her full body of work here, a performance worthy of IIHF Directorate Best Goalie consideration. She played every minute of her team’s first five games, recorded two shutouts, and allowed only four goals. She won her first four games and lost the last to Finland by the narrowest of margins, 1-0, and time and again gave her team that confidence only a great goaltender can provide.

Meeri Raisanen (FIN): The scoreline shows the U.S. beat Finland by a tight 3-0 score, but the shots favoured the winners, 39-10. Many of those 39 shots were of American-quality chances, and the only reason the score wasn’t much higher was the play of Raisanen.

Nana Fujimoto (JPN): The 32-year-old Fujimoto made her first top-level appearance at the WW back in 2008, but this year has been her best. She held the first against Denmark, earning a shutout in a key 1-0 win that helped Japan qualify for the playoffs with a team best 3-1 record in the preliminary round.

Andrea Braendli (SUI): The Americans started the WW with a 3-0 win over Switzerland, a low goal total for the world champs. Slow start? Bit of rust? Taking it easy? No. They were electric, firing on all cylinders, but they encountered Braendli, who played out of her mind, stopping a crazy 55 of 58 shots she faced. 

Cassandra Repstock-Romme (DEN): It’s a mouthful of a name when you have to say it often, and commentators did have to say it often, indeed, because of the fine play of the Danish goaler. She allowed only four goals in two game and had a 92.6 save percentage, all on a team that failed to win a game in the round robin. She gave her team a steady and calm presence in the crease and having turned 20 just a few days ago is clearly ready to lead her team for years to come.

Aniko Nemeth (HUN): When you’re struggling to stay in the top division, it helps that your best player is the goalie. Such is the case with Hungary, a team that will try to qualify for the Olympics in November. Nemeth was a revelation in Calgary, and coach Lisa Haley called her the most improved player on her team in the last several months. 

Anni Keisala (FIN): The reason the Finns are playing for a medal is the play of Keisala in the quarter-finals. The Czechs outshot her team, 29-20, but she was perfect in a 1-0 win to advance to the semis. She also earned a shutout against ROC in the preliminary round and has a spectacular 95.3 save percentage in three games.

Jennifer Harss (GER): Having allowed just three goals in three games, Harss has added to her legacy in the German goal. The 34-year-old made her WW debut back in 2005 and has now played in 25 Women’s World games. Her nine WW appearances is only one behind the all-time leaders Florence Schelling (SUI) and Sara Grahn (SWE).