It’s been a memorable year for New Zealand ice hockey and Puck Yeah has loved covering every moment of it. Earlier this week we highlighted our top ten goals of the year, but now we shine a spotlight on the NZIHL’s goalies with our top saves of 2018!
Obviously this is subjective so don’t @ me if you disagree with any of the choices here.
8: Rick Parry (Ice Blacks) v Australia
Parry’s calm demeanour in net was a key factor as the Ice Blacks veteran managed to stop all but one of Australia’s 32 shots. The Ice Blacks would end up winning the second of the three-game test series 6-1 to claim a historic series victory on home ice.
Parry enjoyed a solid NZIHL season with the West Auckland Admirals as well , sharing goaltending duties with Csaba Kercso-Magos – he ended 2018 with a 6-2 record, 3.25 goals against average, .913 save percentage and his first Birgel Cup title.
7: Finley Forbes (Red Devils) v Dunedin Thunder
While it was a trying season for the Canterbury Red Devils, finishing with a 2-14 record to scrap together five competition points, it was a promising year for one of their top young talents.
The stats themselves might not be worth writing home about, but that only highlights a largely problem at hand for the Canterbury side. The teenager, who also played for the New Zealand under-18 team that won their IIHF Division 3B World Championship in Queenstown, pulled off some miraculous saves that showed his true potential.
At age 16, Finley was the youngest player to play in the NZIHL this season. It’s worth noting that while the Admirals’ defence prospect Flynn Jones is 51 days younger, he did not dress for West Auckland in 2018.
6: Csaba Kercso-Magos (Admirals) v Dunedin Thunder
Csaba Junior has gone from strength to strength in recent years, culminating with a championship-winning performance in game two of the 2018 Birgel Cup Finals against the Stampede – he only allowed one goal off an astonishing 41 shots that day.
All that pressure is something the Hungarian-Kiwi netminder has gotten used to, as he too was under fire in the inaugural 2v3 playoff game. The West Auckland Admirals held a 3-1 lead in the third period with the Thunder throwing everything they could on goal to keep their finals hopes alive. However, Kercso-Magos held strong and the rest was history.
He finished the 2018 season with a 9-1 record, 2.77 GAA, .931 SV% plus one shutout.
5: Toby Schuck (Thunder) v Canterbury Red Devils
With Kane Easterbrook getting the majority of the starts for the Dunedin Thunder, the 38-year-old goalie served as a viable backup option for coach Jeff Avery. In five games this season, Schuck held a 3.50 GAA and .899 SV% with a 2-2 record.
Standing at 6-foot-9, we felt it was appropriate to dub the goalie as ‘The Great Wall of Toby’ – you’ll see why with our top 5 best save of 2018.
4: Daniel Lee (Stampede) v Botany Swarm
Lee was named the league’s Best Goaltender in the 2018 NZIHL Awards and with good reason. The Skycity Stampede goalie was nearly impossible to beat some nights with three shutouts to his name over 18 games.
In the final weekend of the regular season Lee was frustrating the Swarm, stopping everything that came his way for a combined 63-save shutout weekend. Still only 21, it’s good to know that the future of the Ice Blacks’ crease is in good hands with Lee – his final stats for 2018 including a 13-5 record, 2.65 GAA and .926 SV%.
Perhaps the league could have an actual awards night to properly celebrate the achievements of its teams and players one day?
3: Joel Rindelaub (Swarm) v Skycity Stampede
Of late it’s felt hard to escape Joel’s face, and while we’re probably partially to blame for that, you can’t deny his star quality. His recent appearances on ‘Jono & Ben’ plus ‘The Crowd Goes Wild’ all help to raise the profile of the sport in New Zealand.
The NZIHL needs great personalities like his to bring in new fans, thankfully the Botany Swarm are smart enough to let the man be who he is. I mean, he even has his own cheer section at Botany home games.
Screen time aside, Rindelaub also had a solid season in-goal for the Swarm finishing fourth amongst the league’s leaders. His desperation glove save to stop the Stampede’s Ryan Strayer from scoring a likely goal in round 5 was one of our favourites.
2: Colin Langham (Swarm) v West Auckland Admirals
Swarm import Colin Langham is another great personality on and off the ice. If you don’t believe me, just watch this video of the goalie mic’d up during practice with Elon University.
With both Langham and Rindelaub being import goalies, under NZIHL rules their minutes had to managed, so their starts were split with Michael Hopkinson. Colin’s most impressive outing coming in round four against West Auckland, the Swarm’s cross-town rivals, with a diving save denying Nick Henderson in the dying seconds.
1: Finley Forbes (Red Devils) v Skycity Stampede
We couldn’t have just one save from Forbes in our countdown. Watch how quick his glove hand is at snatching a juicy rebound opportunity out of the air. That’s number one material right there!
Main photo: Josh Fraser