With a .951 save percentage and 1.34 goals against average in 16 starts this season, Minnesota Duluth junior goaltender Emma Soderberg captured the WCHA’s goaltending title for the 2020-21 season.
One of two statistically driven awards handed out at the end of the regular season, Soderberg’s goals against average and save percentage both led the league. Her five shutouts this season were also tied for most in the WCHA and her 11 wins put her second.
The native of Jarved, Sweden, also made the second-most total saves (404) of any WCHA netminder and the 21 goals allowed were the fewest among the eight goalies in the league who played 30 percent or more of their team’s total minutes this season.
In her first season as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 goaltender after replacing Olympic gold medalist Maddie Rooney, Soderberg is one of eight finalists for national goaltender of the year, with a save percentage that ranks third nationally and goals against average that is second.
Congratulations to the #WCHA 2020-21 Goaltending Champion, Emma Söderberg of Minnesota Duluth❗️— WCHA Women's Hockey (@WCHA_WHockey) February 28, 2021
Emma posted a 1.34 GAA in league play this season to take home the title.#WeAreWCHA | #ChampionshipSeason pic.twitter.com/HyTVGMHT0T
Soderberg made 71 saves on 77 shots last week in a win and overtime loss to Wisconsin, including a career-high 45 saves on Saturday when UMD fell just short of winning its first WCHA regular season title in over a decade. She was named the WCHA Goaltender of the Month on Tuesday for a third-straight month dating back to December.
Wisconsin senior forward Daryl Watts was the WCHA’s scoring champion, averaging 1.94 points per game. Her 0.94 goals per game and 1.00 assist per game average also led the league.
UMD’s Anna Klein and Gabbie Hughes both tied for third in the league scoring race at 1.31 points per game. Klein, a senior wing, totaled 11 goals and 10 assists while Hughes, a junior center, had 10 goals and 11 assists.
The Bulldogs are at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis this weekend at the WCHA Final Faceoff. Second-seeded UMD takes on third-seeded Ohio State at 5:07 p.m. Saturday in the second semifinal. The winner advances to the championship game at 2:07 p.m. Sunday at Ridder to take on either No. 1 Wisconsin or No. 4 Minnesota, who play at 1:07 p.m. Saturday.
Swaney in contention for NCHC scoring title
Over on the men’s side of Amsoil Arena, Bulldogs senior wing Nick Swaney is in contention for the NCHC regular season scoring title, sitting second in the league with 27 points via 13 goals and 14 assists. He sits one point back of North Dakota sophomore forward Shane Pinto, who has 28 points via 15 goals and 13 assists.
Swaney is coming off a hat trick last Saturday at home against St. Cloud State and has four goals in UMD’s last two games. He put together a six-game point streak during the Bulldogs’ six-game winning streak, tallying four goals and four assists between Jan. 23 and Feb. 6.
The UMD men’s program wraps up the regular season at 1:07 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State. Pinto and the Fighting Hawks close the season at 7:37 p.m. Friday at home against Nebraska-Omaha. Also in contention for the scoring title is Pinto’s teammate, Hawks senior forward Jordan Kawaguchi, who sits third with 26 points via six goals and 20 assists.
Scott Perunovich, the Bulldogs junior defenseman and eventual Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner, won last year’s scoring title with 32 points via four goals and 28 assists in league play.
NCHC standings revert to points-per-game
The final NCHC regular season standings and seeding for the upcoming NCHC Frozen Faceoff will not be determined by total points, but by points per game after the final two games between Denver and Colorado College this weekend were canceled due to “a combination of positive COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Colorado College hockey program,” the NCHC announced Monday night.
The Bulldogs and Huskies are still battling for second place on Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Third-place UMD sits one point back of the second-place Huskies — or 44 thousandths (.044) of a percentage point back. The second and third seed for the NCHC’s postseason are the only seeds left undetermined now after Monday's announcement.
North Dakota has already clinched the regular season title and top seed in the Frozen Faceoff. The host Hawks will take on No. 8 Miami in one of two quarterfinal games on Friday, March 12. Colorado College is the No. 7 seed and will take on the No. 2 seed in the other semifinal that day.
In the quarterfinals on Saturday, March 13, Nebraska-Omaha is locked into fourth and will now take on fifth-seeded Denver while No. 6 Western Michigan faces the third seed.
The tournament will be reseeded after the quarterfinals. Both semifinals will take place on Monday, March 15 while the Frozen Faceoff championship is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16. There is no third-place game this year.
The WCHA is not selling any tickets to the public for this weekend’s Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. The event will be limited to team guests only. The state of Minnesota continues to limit attendance at large events, such as hockey games, to 250 people.
Three Bulldogs were named players of the week by their respective leagues. In the WCHA, Soderberg was named goaltender of the week and Hughes was named forward of the week for her four goals and an assist against the Badgers.
In the NCHC, Swaney was named forward of the week after scoring a hat trick Saturday against St. Cloud State.
This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. on March 2 with Soderberg being named WCHA Goaltender of the Month for February. It was originally posted at 11:03 a.m. on March 2.