There is an old adage in sports that the best offense is a good defense. Through the first six weeks of the ECHL season, the league’s goaltenders are proving that to be true.
Among goaltenders who have played enough to be eligible for the league leaders, five have posted a goals-against average of under 2.00, while six have a save percentage of .930 or higher.
Ontario’s Michael Hutchinson, who leads the league with 12 wins and is tied for first with a 1.77 goals-against average, enjoyed a stellar month of November where he went 10-1-1 and allowed just 20 goals in his 12 appearances. Hutchinson has allowed two goals or less in 11 of his last 12 appearances, and in 12 of 15 games overall this season.
No stranger to success in the ECHL, South Carolina’s Jeff Jakaitis is right on Hutchinson’s heels with 11 wins and a 1.77 goals-against average. The 2012 ECHL Goaltender of the Year while with Gwinnett, Jakaitis has allowed just six goals over his last five games, and has notched at least 30 saves in a game five times over his last nine appearances.
Florida’s Kristers Gudlevskis is the top rookie goaltender in the league through six weeks, ranking third overall with a 1.83 goals-against average, while his seven wins are second among first-year netminders. He has won three of his last four starts, and has allowed two goals or less in seven of his last eight appearances.
Another rookie off to a strong start this season is Wheeling’s Mike Condon, who leads all first-year goaltenders with eight wins, while ranking fifth overall with a 1.97 goals-against average and third with a .939 save percentage.
Greenville’s Connor Knapp also has adjusted well to the pro game. The first-year pro leads all ECHL goaltenders with a .942 save percentage, and he has made at least 30 saves seven times in his nine appearances.