The reigning All-Star MVP and her role in standing up for the future of Swedish women’s ice hockey
By Alex Holmes
If you are a Buffalo, Connecticut, Metropolitan, Minnesota, or Toronto fan, then you should know that there is one woman standing in the way of your favorite team hoisting the Isobel Cup. Literally. For the Boston Pride fans out there, you have one woman protecting your chances of making it back to the Cup final. Her name is Lovisa Selander.
The 5’11” goaltender from Sollentuna, Sweden will begin the second season of her NWHL career this weekend when the Boston Pride take on the Minnesota Whitecaps (Saturday, 4 P.M. ET, Twitch). The game will be a showdown between two teams with unsettled business—they were supposed to play in the 2020 Isobel Cup final before it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Selander was the No. 20 pick in the 2018 NWHL Draft. Her young NWHL resume is already illuminated by several accolades, including 2020 NWHL Goaltender of the Year and 2020 All-Star Game MVP. A season ago, she led the league in several defensive categories, including goals against average (1.71) and save percentage (.941). Her 17 wins in 2020 made her the winningest goalkeeper in the league.
Selander’s early success with Boston comes after a record-breaking collegiate career. She finished her time at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as the all-time saves leader in NCAA Division I ice hockey history. Selander debuted with the Swedish national team during the Four Nations Cup in 2018. Less than a year later, Selander competed with Sweden in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. Following Sweden’s relegation in that year’s World Championship, Selander was one of the 43 women who boycotted the Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIHA).
The boycott began with Sweden scheduled to play in Finland’s Five Nations Tournament in August 2019, the result of years of SIHA’s lack of investment in its talented player pool. The 43 participating players opted out of the training camp and tournament. The women’s ice hockey team lost the Swedish Olympic Committee’s financial support after a seventh place finish in the 2018 Winter Olympics—the team’s worst finish ever at the Olympics. The 2019 World Championship ended in relegation and, after a string of lackluster performances, the players’ frustration with SIHA had mounted. In April of that year, the federation chose not to financially support national team members who would have to miss practicing and playing games—and therefore lose pay—with their club teams while attending national team events.
Following the announcement of the boycott, the players’ association released ten demands addressing key issues such as the lost income, traveling issues, and the future of youth development for girl’s ice hockey. Similar to the 2017 U.S. women’s national team boycott, where players used the mantra #BeBoldForChange, the Swedish players rallied around #FörFramtiden, or “For the Future.” Two months later in October 2019, the players and SIHA reached a deal that included payment for the lost income when playing with the national team and bonuses for winning medals at events.
Selander’s decision to opt out of the 2019 event was bold. As a young player, her resolve to side with Swedish national team veterans over SIHA showed her resolve to put the future and development of Swedish women’s ice hockey above herself. After a dominating 2020 season and with high hopes to follow it up with fireworks over the next two weeks in Lake Placid, you can be sure Lovisa Selander will shortly be back in a Swedish jersey.
The 2021 NWHL season begins this weekend, with the puck dropping Saturday at 1 P.M. ET for a game between NWHL debutant Toronto and Metropolitan. To keep up with opening weekend action, a full schedule is available here.