Whistle vs. Moose: Just how Important is a British Goaltender?

Jackson Whistle has provided the Sheffield Steelers with a British goaltender to kick-start their team building, following the blueprint Cardiff has achieved so much with. How does Whistle stack up against fan favourite Ervins Mustukovs, and just how much does a British goaltender help your chances?

The news of ‘Moose’ leaving the Steelers confused many fans, with a league lowest goals against average and strong save percentage at .918. It seemed difficult to imagine how the team could improve on this for the upcoming season, with fans soon realising a British goaltender was the target after Thommo promised a ‘new direction’.
Jackson Whistle’s arrival split fans, some were pleased to see a strong British goaltender join the squad, while others saw the move as a definite downgrade compared to last season.

If you compare the stats of Moose and Whistle over the last two season its clear Moose was the stronger EIHL goaltender.

Moose vs Whistle

However, if you compare Whistle to a 22-year-old Moose, the difference is much closer.
Moose vs Whistle 22

Comparing them at the same age still suggests that Moose was the stronger of the two goaltenders, but Whistle at still has time to develop and will hopefully become another league leading goaltender for the Steelers. Truly, it is the British passport held by Whistle that really distinguishes them, enabling Sheffield to free up an import slot and follow the Cardiff blueprint that they’ve seen so much success with.

How Important is a British Goalie?

Cardiff’s recent domination of the elite league has seen a lot of emphasis put on Bowns and the British goaltender model and rightfully so. In his time at Cardiff they’ve won two league titles, two challenge cups, and a play-off title.

However, how much of this success is down to Ben Bowns? Just to clarify, I’m not saying he’s overrated, I’d take him any day of the week, but stats suggest a British keeper is only as valuable as you make it. If you look at the Bowns averages in two seasons at Hull, where they won nothing by the way, and compare them to his four seasons in Cardiff there is only one significant difference.

Hull Cardiff

The biggest difference here isn’t the save percentage, although it did increase slightly, but the goals against average took the biggest drop. This is because Cardiff have fully utilised that extra import slot to build a strong team that is always pushing for trophies, compared to Hull’s weaker team even though they held the same British keeper.

Last season other goalies with higher save percentages than Bowns average include:

  • Patrick Galbraith .924
  • Mustukovs .918
  • Iles .913

However, none of them holding a British passport weakened the rest of their team compared to Cardiff, who made full use of the spare import slot to seize themselves another title.

As a Steelers fan, I don’t think we should rejoice the signing of Whistle until the rest of the team is assembled. Unless the spare import slot is fully utilised, as Cardiff have done, we may again see ourselves behind them in more than one trophy race.

As a side note, if Brad Day had been given more ice time we could’ve had a Jackson Whistle in the squad all along. In the last 3 seasons he’s played 17 games with an average of 2.32 goals against and a .921 save percentage. His limited ice time means we can only judge him on these few stats, but I hope he gets the opportunity to develop this season as it seems the potential is very much there.

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