By Mike Murphy
For the third time in the 2019-20 NWHL season, we have two VEDA Players of the Week. The only two goaltenders to start in each of their team’s games this year, Amanda Leveille of the Minnesota Whitecaps and Sam Walther of the Metropolitan Riveters, are being honored for their performances. Together, Leveille and Walther put on one of the most entertaining weekend-long goaltending duels in league history.
With complete All-Star rosters expected to be released on Thursday, this may not be the only honors Leveille and Walther earn this week.
On Saturday, Leveille earned her second shutout of the season by stopping all 34 shots she faced in the Whitecaps’ 2-0 win over the Riveters. She earned honors as the first star of the game for blanking the Riveters, who had five power play opportunities to try and beat the 2018 NWHL Goaltender of the Year. Leveille followed that performance with another 34-save game on Sunday in Minnesota’s 3-1 loss, giving her a .971 save percentage for the weekend.
Leveille is now riding a streak of six consecutive starts where she has allowed two goals or less. She has posted a .960 save percentage in that window, which has steered the Whitecaps to a 4-1-1 record.
Walther was equally brilliant this weekend. She made 25 saves on Saturday in the Rivs’ losing effort and was undeniably one of the best players on the ice. On Sunday, she absolutely stole the show.
The Maryland native came close to shattering a Riveters franchise record – set by Nana Fujimoto on Nov. 15, 2015, with a 61-save performance – by stopping 60 of the 61 shots she faced from the Whitecaps. Walther made 50 saves through the first 40 minutes of the game alone. Her .966 save percentage on the weekend helped guide the Riveters to their seventh win of the season, which resulted in the team moving into third place in the standings.
Leveille, a two-time Isobel Cup winner, is the NWHL’s all-time leader in saves (1,468) and wins (47). She has now earned two shutouts in back-to-back seasons for the Whitecaps and is second all-time in NWHL history in clean slates (4). In her collegiate career, Leveille won three National Championships at the University of Minnesota where she is second all-time in program history in wins (98) and first all-time in goals against average (1.18). Leveille is a two-time NWHL All-Star.
Walther is playing in her second NWHL season and her first as a member of the Riveters. As Metropolitan’s starter, Walther has made 40 or more saves in four of her 15 starts and has earned a .904 save percentage since the start of December. She finished her collegiate career as Hamilton’s all-time leader in save percentage (.948), shutouts (26), and goals against average (1.40).
Photo Credit: Kate Frese
The VEDA NWHL Players of the Week for 2019-20
October 8: Lenka Čurmová, Beauts
October 15: Lexie Laing, Pride
October 22: Lovisa Selander, Pride; Brooke Stacey, Beauts
October 31: Sydney Baldwin, Whitecaps
November 19: Kelsey Neumann, Beauts
November 26: Taylor Accursi, Beauts
December 3: Sam Walther, Riveters
December 10: Kendall Cornine, Riveters; Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Pride
December 17: Audra Richards, Whitecaps
December 24: Allie Thunstrom, Whitecaps
December 31: Madison Packer, Riveters