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College women's hockey: Stalder's prowess on display in UMD playoff win

Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Catherine Daoust celebrates after putting the puck past St. Cloud State goalie Janine Alder and defenseman Brittney Anderson for the Bulldogs' second goal during Thursday's 5-0 WCHA playoff win at Amsoil Arena. 1 / 3
Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Lara Stalder, a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, brings the puck down the ice during Thursday's playoff game against St. Cloud State at Amsoil Arena. Stalder had two goals and one assist in the 5-0 win. 2 / 3
Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Demi Crossman backhands the puck to score her second goal Thursday in a 5-0 win over St. Cloud State at Amsoil Arena. Also pictured are Lynn Astrup (29), Caroline Markstrom (11) and Janine Alder (1). 3 / 3

Minnesota Duluth senior wing Lara Stalder didn't take long to kick her campaign for national player of the year into high gear.

Just over an hour after being named a top-10 finalist for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, Stalder registered two goals and an assist to lead the third-seeded Bulldogs over sixth-seeded St. Cloud State 5-0 on Thursday in Game 1 of a best-of-three WCHA playoff series at Amsoil Arena.

Stalder said she didn't know she was up for the award until it was announced inside Amsoil Arena during the first period.

"It kind of reflects our team. We're No. 2 in the country. I'm honored and we'll see how it goes," said Stalder, whose Bulldogs will go for the series sweep at 3:07 p.m. today at Amsoil. "You never expect things like that. It's something you can't control. I'm honored to be on there and it's a reflection of our team."

"We expected it," UMD senior forward Demi Crossman, who also scored twice, chimed in. "She might not have thought of it, but we knew she was right there."

Stalder scored her 20th and 21st goals of the season via snipes early in the second and third periods. She also assisted on the Bulldogs' second goal of the game, sending a shot hard off a Husky defender that junior defenseman Catherine Daoust was able to knock in.

The native of Lucerne, Switzerland, and 2014 Olympic bronze medalist is attempting to become the first Bulldog and first player outside of North America to win the Patty Kazmaier in the award's 20th season.

Stalder finished the regular season with 19 goals and 28 assists to lead the Bulldogs in scoring. She entered the weekend ranked second in the WCHA in points (47) and goals, and third in the league in assists. Nationally, her 1.57 points-per-game average was tied for fourth and her seven game-winning goals were tied for tops in the NCAA.

Not among those point totals are the eight goals and four assists she accumulated during three games of Olympic qualifying, leading the Swiss national team to a berth in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"It's a huge honor for her as an individual, for our program and for all the teammates who help her get all these accolades," UMD coach Maura Crowell said of Stalder's nomination for NCAA Division I women's hockey player or the year. "She wouldn't be there without them, that'd be the first thing she says. Kudos to her because she has earned this all the way through."

Senior captain and wing Ashleigh Brykaliuk had three assists and sophomore goaltender Maddie Rooney made 21 saves for her sixth shutout of 2016-17.

Crossman — nicknamed "The Agitator" by Crowell — scored her first goal of the day 2:34 into the series with a shot from the left faceoff circle. Her second goal of the afternoon and sixth of the season involved her walking out to the front of the St. Cloud State net where she used a wicked backhander to make it 4-0.

"I learned it from one of these guys," Crossman said of her backhander, motioning to Stalder. "It was one of those out-of-body experiences to be honest. ... I just exploded to the net and wanted to make sure I got a shot off."

"It was pretty sick," Stalder added.

Crossman entered the postseason with four goals and seven assists, having picked up that fourth goal last Saturday in a 4-1 win over the Huskies to cap the regular season. She's known more for the penalties she takes and goads other teams into.

Crossman was whistled for her 16th penalty and 32nd penalty minute on Thursday at the end of the second period following a scrum with junior defenseman Emma Turbyville. She took Turbyville with her as both received two minutes for roughing.

"She is on a little bit of a roll," Crowell said. "She certainly has good luck against St. Cloud. The little walk-out play she put on her backhand was a beauty. ... We were trying so hard to get her that third one in the end. It didn't happen, but I'm really proud of her and excited she is playing her best hockey at the most important time, too."

* If necessary, Game 3 of the series will take place at 3:07 p.m. Sunday at Amsoil Arena, though the Bulldogs can prevent that game by winning Friday. Amsoil is hosting high school boys hockey all day Saturday, hence the Thursday contest.

* Stalder is the 14th Bulldog to be named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier with Jenny Potter (2000, 03, 04) and Maria Rooth (00, 01, 02) being named three times. Caroline Ouellette (04, 05), Noemie Marin (06, 07) and Emmanuelle Blais (2010) were the others.

* Other finalists for the Patty Kazmaier include Wisconsin senior goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens and junior forward Annie Pankowski; Minnesota forwards Kelly Pannek and Sarah Potomak; Boston College junior defenseman Megan Keller; Princeton senior defenseman Kelsey Koelzer; St. Lawrence forwards Kennedy Marchment and Brooke Webster; and Clarkson senior forward Cayley Mercer. Four of the 10 finalists are from the United States, five are from Canada and Stalder is the lone European. The list will eventually be trimmed from 10 to three before the winner is named.

St. Cloud State......................... 0-0-0—0

Minnesota Duluth.................... 2-2-1—5

First period — 1. UMD, Demi Crossman 5 (Sidney Morin, Michelle Lowenhielm), 2:34; 2. UMD, Catherine Daoust 2 (Lara Stalder, Sidney Morin), 19:03 (pp).

Second period — 3. UMD, Stalder 20 (Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Daoust), 6:33; 4. UMD, Crossman 6 (Lowenhielm, Brykaliuk), 14:05.

Third period — 5. UMD, Stalder 21 (Brykaliuk, Shelby Brossart), 4:00.

Saves — Janine Alder, SCSU, 14-10-x—24; Taylor Crosby, SCSU, x-x-15—15; Maddie Rooney, UMD, 9-7-5—21.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317
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