Featuring the finest goaltending in women’s hockey, the Minnesota Whitecaps can place one of three outstanding backstops between the pipes for any given game. In a group that features US national team members Jessie Vetter and Alex Rigsby, the Whitecaps can proudly boast a homegrown talent as well.
Raised in Eagan, Minnesota, Allison (Alli) Altmann has assembled a solid body of work. With roots stretching back to Eagan High School, where she logged 14 career shutouts and spent one season as team captain while finishing as runner-up for Minnesota Senior Goalie of the Year award, she would remain in the State of Hockey for her NCAA career.
Competing with Mankato’s Minnesota State Mavericks from 2008-12, Altmann was a workhorse goaltender, making 110 appearances. Sharing occasional goaltending duties with Danielle Butters, while Lauren Smith anchored the offense, she was part of two significant milestones in program history.
In addition to helping the Mavericks qualify for the WCHA Final Face-Off in 2009, a program first, she would also assemble a solid 48-save performance against the Wisconsin Badgers. The result was the program’s first-ever victory against Wisconsin.
Taking into account that Vetter and Rigsby both played for the Badgers, each earning over 90 career wins, Altmann enjoys the opportunity to call them teammates on the Whitecaps after several seasons as rivals in WCHA play.
Other WCHA stars that are now Altmann’s teammates with the Whitecaps include Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, the greatest players in North Dakota history. They are joined along with Minnesota Golden Gophers stars such as Rachael Bona, Mira Jalosuo and Anne Schleper, giving the feeling of an All-Star team.
“It is really great to be able to call my fellow WCHA rivals my teammates now. Instead of having the pressure of them attacking me in goal, I now have the confidence in them to help defend the opponent.
I also played with many of them growing up and during high school years (as well as being coached by a few of them), so it is really fun to be back on the ice with them in the same colored jersey. It reminds me of my MN Selects days when we would have players from every team join together to create an all-star team.”
Currently in her first season with the Whitecaps, Altmann is ecstatic at the chance to continue her playing career. Since 2011, she has served as a lead instructor at Devenir Goaltenders and occupies the role of Vice-President. While her superlative work as an instructor ensured that she still had a connection to the game, the chance to play again has rekindled her competitive spirit.
“After college, I thought my career was over and I took it very hard. Everything that I worked so hard for my entire childhood had come to a sudden end. The thing I enjoy the most about playing for the Whitecaps is, well, playing hockey! I get to continue my passion along with others who have the same passion for the game.
There is no better feeling than being able to do what you love, with people who also feel the same way. I am so grateful for the Whitecaps organization for allowing me the opportunity to play hockey again and at an elite/pro level.”
In an exciting season that has seen the Whitecaps compete against three of the NWHL’s charter clubs, including a two-game series against the Boston Pride, the first pro women’s hockey matches in Minnesota. Along with exhibition matches against the defending national champion Golden Gophers, Altmann experienced another personal milestone with the Whitecaps.
Earning the start against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in back-to-back games from January 9-10, 2016, Altmann provided a superlative performance. In the first game, a 6-1 contest in favor of the Whitecaps, Altmann faced 17 shots, allowing just one goal to Meghan Dufault.
Making 16 saves in the following game, the result was a hard fought 1-0 shutout against Brian Idalski’s squad. Of note, the game-winning goal was scored in the third period by Allie Thunstrom, who would gain First Star of the Game honors. Altmann was recognized as the Second Star while North Dakota backstop Shelby Amsley-Benzie gained the Third Star. Taking into account that the shutout occurred on North Dakota’s home ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena made the feat much more rewarding,
“Getting the sweep at UND was a great way to top off the season, and to finish the weekend with a shutout, on the road, was icing on the cake. I knew Sunday’s game would be a lot different than game one, so I just had to be mentally prepared for a tough battle. Our team came out strong and allowed me to relax and play with confidence.”
Following the contest, both teams came together for a remarkable gesture and a strong show of support for Denna Laing. Forming the number 14 on the ice, the number that Laing wore with the Princeton Tigers, it is part of a heartwarming movement in hockey.
Having suffered a spinal cord injury during an outdoor game with the Pride, teams throughout Canada and the United States have graced the ice in a #14 formation honoring Laing. Subsequently, the teams are photographed in this formation and the photos are issued via social media. There was added emotion as the Pride visited Minnesota just weeks before the accident took place, of which Altmann earned a start in the series. Altmann was happy that both teams gathered at centre ice following the game as a form of encouragement for Laing,
“I think the hockey world was shocked when they found out about the news of Denna Laing. My heart goes out to her, her family, and all her present and past teammates. She seems like a fighter and has a great attitude that will keep her moving forward.
My thoughts and prayers are with you Denna! Its amazing the outpouring of support the hockey community gives when tragic things happen, and I think that type of reaction reflects the true character of the hockey world. At the end of our game we followed the hockey community’s lead and came together as one team for Denna. #14strong.”
Such graciousness and appreciation is an extension of what it means to be part of the Whitecaps. Throughout their existence, the Whitecaps have always been dedicated to providing a very positive fan experience. This wonderful initiative still exists as Whitecaps players get to meet fans and sign autographs after the game.
Simultaneously, it allows Altmann and her fellow Whitecaps players to serve as role models. Considering that young fans at the games includes both girls and boys, it is an opportunity to educate that there is diversity in hockey, as women have a rightful place in the game as well. For Altmann, whose work teaching young goaltenders is a labor of love, she is grateful for the fan support, serving as a source of motivation as she shines in the feeling of pride that comes with donning the Whitecaps jersey,
“As hockey players playing at a high level, we must always remember there are “young eyes” looking up to us. I think this is what drives me to be the best role model and hockey player I can be.
I coach youth goalies everyday, with a goalie school I own with Ryan Ess called Devenir Goaltenders, so its fun to be able to see them after my games because I know they look up to me as a coach, and now as a player. It’s great to meet our fans and youth players after the games; it helps build a bond between players and fans.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”