As Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman of Anchorage continued his scorching start to this NHL regular season – 7-0-1 after 20 saves Saturday in a 5-2 win over Montreal – there was a niggle in the back of my brain that this felt familiar.
Little digging and, yep, this is almost precisely how he ended last regular season – lording over opponents.
Swayman, who splits time with reigning Vezina Trophy winner and hug-buddy Linus Ullmark, leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.73) and save percentage (.941). According to naturalstattrick.com, he has in eight starts saved 9.18 goals above average, which through Saturday ranked second on the circuit behind Los Angeles’ Cam Talbot (10.33). who has played five more games than Swayman.
In his last eight regular-season starts in 2022-23 – and with a nine-minute relief stint mixed in there – Swayman went 8-0-0. So, in his last 16 regular-season starts, Swayman is 15-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and three shutouts.
Granted, the Bruins set an NHL regular-season record for points last season (135) and, at 13-1-2 this season, lead the league in points. Still, Swayman’s numbers are jaw droppers.
In his third full season in the world’s best league – he’s still at just 90 career starts and 96 appearances – Swayman has delivered a career win-loss record of 61-23-8. At this rate, Swayman, who turns 25 this week, will soon enough be sniffing the retired Ty Conklin’s career record for most NHL wins (96) by an Alaskan masked man.
Also, that one-year, $3.475 million deal Swayman signed after going through arbitration before the start of the season is looking like a steal for the Bruins. For now. Swayman keeps delivering – hey, some regression is expected – and the annual average of his next deal is going to start with a number higher than 3.
Sunday starts with the 'tendies. pic.twitter.com/ajHmqCH32H
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 19, 2023
Meanwhile, in the ECHL, two steps below the NHL, a couple of forwards from Anchorage who have shown goal-scoring chops on the circuit but struggled early this season, got their games going over the weekend.
Cam Hausinger, who scored 21 goals for Wheeling as a rookie two seasons ago and last season played 10 games in the AHL, went without a goal in his first 10 games this season for ECHL Florida, which acquired him in a trade just before season’s start. Hausinger delivered his ice-breaker for the season in Friday’s 6-2 win over Atlanta – he also had a fight – and scored again in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Atlanta. That pushed him to 2-2—4 totals and an even rating in 12 games.
Alec Butcher, the former Seawolf, got off to a slow start for ECHL Reading, but chipped in a goal and a helper Saturday in a 6-4 loss to Newfoundland to give him 2-3—5 and minus-4 totals through 12 games. Butcher bagged 21 goals for Reading last season and 23 for Rapid City two seasons ago.
Center Nolan Walker of Anchorage scored an empty-net goal Thursday in Kansas City’s 4-1 win over Tulsa, coached by former Alaska Aces bench boss Rob Murray. Walker owns 5-6—11 and plus-4 totals in 14 games.
Another ECHLer from Anchorage, goaltender Michael Bullion, endured the grind of three-games-in-three-nights for the Savannah Ghost Pirates, going 1-0-2 while stopping 83 of 92 shots (.902 save percentage). He’s 2-3-2, 2.93, .898.
Savannah’s 5-4 overtime loss to Orlando on Saturday included the season debut of forward Tanner Schachle, the former Seawolf from Wasilla. One page on the ECHL site credited Schachle with an assist, although the game summary did not – we’ll grant him the helper.
Welcomed back to game action Saturday was Kalamazoo Wings forward Tanner Sorenson of Anchorage, who skated in a 4-0 win at Indy after missing three weeks.
In the Southern Professional Hockey League, former Seawolf forward Drake Glover of Anchorage scored a goal for Birmingham in Friday’s 5-3 win over Pensacola and another in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Knoxville. Saturday’s strike came against goalie Kristian Stead, Glover’s former UAA teammate. Glover checks in with 6-5—11 totals and a plus-5 rating in 10 games.
Winger Cayden Cahill of Anchorage lost his six-game point streak to start the season in Peoria’s wins Friday and Saturday, but still owns 2-7—9 and plus-5 totals in eight games for the Rivermen (7-0-1). Peoria is the only team on the circuit yet to lose in regulation. Saturday, the Rivermen beat Roanoke. Roanoke’s goalie was Brody Claeys.
Claeys, Stead, Glover and Schachle were teammates at UAA in 2018-19.