From May 1-31, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and their draft picks during the restricted free agency period, and beginning on June 1 any unsigned players left will be free to sign with any team.
The third season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Buffalo Beauts defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with up to 12 players unable to participate in the league this season due to their selection for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic team, this will be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on New York and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston.
The day after the NWHL announced that the Boston Pride had re-signed their star goaltender, word came out that they added a rookie goalie too. The signing of University of Vermont netminder Madison Litchfield now makes three goalies for “The Pack” heading into 2017-18. THW takes a look into how the former Catamount star will fit in with Boston.
Litchfield’s Time With UVM
Litchfield is a 5’4″ goalie who held the starting position for the Catamounts since her sophomore season at UVM. Her freshman year saw her appear in eight games while posting a fairly even record. Going 4-4-1, Litchfield finished the 2013-14 season with a 3.50 goals-against average and a .870 save percentage. She would post a lone shutout too against Connecticut. After that, Vermont’s goal crease belonged solely to Litchfield. Statistically, her numbers improved as her remaining three seasons went by.
Litchfield’s largest workload came during her sophomore season. She appeared in a career high 30 games and pitched the most wins (12) of her collegiate career. Litchfield also set a career high in shutouts with three all the while making 750 saves on the year.
Progressing from her second season, Litchfield’s save percentage went up each year. Her numbers went from .893 to .901, and ended with a .928 for her senior year. Perhaps obviously, her goals against lowered each of those same seasons. Starting at a 3.12 during her sophomore campaign, Litchfield put forth a 2.92 her third year and a fantastic 2.08 her final season.
Catamount Records and Accolades
When all was said and done, Litchfield owned much of Vermont’s record books. Presently she holds the school’s record for most career wins with 32. She ranks in the top-five for all time in nearly all major goaltending categories for UVM. Litchfield stands fourth in games played (91), tied for second in career save percentage (.903) and fourth in career goals against (2.82) as some of her more noteworthy accomplishments.
Separately from statistics, Litchfield won numerous awards during her collegiate career. She would be named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She received the Outstanding Athlete Award from the University of Vermont’s Women’s Center. Perhaps most impressive, Litchfield was named a Hockey East Second Team All-Star during the 2016-17 season.
— Boston Pride (@TheBostonPride) August 29, 2017
Suffice it to say that Litchfield’s resume depicts a goaltender more than ready for the NWHL. Her head coach at Vermont, Jim Plumer shared the following about his former goaltender via NWHL press release:
“This is a fantastic and well-earned opportunity for Madi to continue her hockey career in the NWHL. The Pride is getting a quality goaltender and a person of great character. She proved throughout her career at UVM that she is a competitor who rises to the occasion and I have no doubt she will bring that same mindset as a pro. All of us at UVM wish her the best in pursuing her career goals, in the NWHL and off the ice.”
Litchfield, Ott, and Laing, Oh My!
The troika of Pride goaltenders is certainly impressive. Boston already has one of the most accomplished goaltenders in the women’s professional game in Brittany Ott. There is not much question that Ott is the cornerstone next season. For the time being, she is the mainstay in net for the team.
Boston seems to hold all the cards though. After Ott, there are now two rookies goalies in Litchfield and Brianna Laing who could easily vie for a starting role in the future. At the very least, both rookies should put some friendly pressure on Ott to garner time in net. This will take place all the while Litchfield and Laing learn the professional game from one of the premier goaltenders.
Of the opportunity to showcase her talents, Litchfield shared the following via NWHL press release:
“Being able to play hockey as a pro in the NWHL is a dream come true, especially in Boston,” said Litchfield. “I’ve had the opportunity to play against many of these women on the Pride in high school or college, so I can’t wait for the opportunity to get on the ice and start learning from them this fall.”
Boston’s Goaltending Is Situated
The Pride are now the second NWHL team to sign three goaltenders, with the other being the Buffalo Beauts. Boston’s trio is incredibly strong and are some of the finest to come out of New England area schools. While it may not be fully determined yet how all three will fit in, it is a very good problem for the team to have.
The Pride coaches could easily just ride whoever happens to be “the hot” goaltender. Ott will be at the forefront, but that does not necessarily mean it will stay that way. Should opportunity come knocking for either Litchfield or Laing, it would be best to allow them the chance to perform and take the reigns.
Here is the Pride roster as of Aug. 30:
Goalie: Brittany Ott, Brianna Laing, Madison Litchfield
Defense: Lexi Bender, Meagan Mangene (defender-forward), Alyssa Gagliardi, Marissa Gedman, Paige Harrington, Kaliya Johnson.
Forward: Paige Savage, Sydney Daniels, Mary Parker, Emily Field, Jillian Dempsey, Michaela Levine, Jordan Smelker, Dana Trivigno, Janine Weber, Kathryn Tomaselli