Today, our series on the mid-season award winners in the ECHL continues with the Goaltender of the Year. Unlike our piece yesterday on the ECHL Rookie of the Year, where the split was between the readers and ECHL writers, today, the split lies within our own writing team.
With more than 2,200 votes cast, the readers and half our writers went with Allen Americans goaltender Riley Gill. The 32-year-old netminder is already one of the most decorated goaltenders in league history and has the Americans poised to win more hardware this spring.
Gill won ECHL goaltender of the week honors for two straight weeks during the last few days of November and into the month of December (November 29 – December 11, 2016), becoming the first goaltender to win consecutive weekly awards since he won for the weeks ending March 17 and 24, 2013 while with Reading. During that span, he went 5-1-0, posted three shutouts (all on the road) and only allowed seven goals. In a time when Allen was scuffling as a club, Gill may have single-handedly turned the season around for the two-time defending ECHL champs.
In addition to his goaltender of the week honors in December, he was named the league’s goaltender of the month of December. In total, Gill went 7-2-0 last month with three shutouts, a 1.70 goals against average, and a .950 save percentage. Despite not having played a game this month, Gill still leads the league in shutouts (5), goals against average (2.12,) and save percentage (.928).
The native of Northfield, MN has played in 223 career ECHL games with Allen, Reading, Victoria, and Kalamazoo posting an overall record of 128-66-18 with 16 shutouts, a 2.55 goals-against average and a save percentage of .916. He ranks fifth all-time in league history in shutouts and is 11th in wins. He is also the ECHL all-time leader with 48 career playoff wins and has captured three Kelly Cup titles (Reading in 2013 and Allen in 2015 and 2016), tied for the most in league history.
The other half of our writing team went with the replacement for Jeff Lerg on the western end of Lake Erie, that’s Toledo Walleye goaltender Jake Paterson. The third-year pro from Mississauga, ON is having a career year. Currently, he has a record of 20-6-1, with a goals against average of 2.48, a .911 save percentage and has four shutouts on the season.
Like Gill, Paterson has won ECHL goaltender of the week honors this year. He was given the honor for his performance in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day when he went 3-1-0, had a 1.76 goals against average and a .940 save percentage in four starts.
Paterson was the 80th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. He has played in 59 games for the Walleye, sporting a 39-15-3 record, with a 2.32 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.
Runners up for Goaltender of the Year among the fans include Jamie Phillips (TUL), Clarke Saunders (COL), and Parker Milner (SC).
Tomorrow, we look at who is the most outstanding defenseman in the ECHL.