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College women's hockey: UMD edges Minnesota in double overtime

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Duluth senior forward Lara Stalder saw the puck float in front of the net on Saturday at Ridder Arena, and the finalist for NCAA Division I women's hockey player of the year knew what to do with it.

Dave Harwig / For the News Tribune Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney stops Minnesota's Lee Stecklein on a breakaway in the first overtime of Saturday night's WCHA Final Face-off semifinal at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. UMD won 2-1 in two overtimes.
Dave Harwig / For the News Tribune Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney stops Minnesota's Lee Stecklein on a breakaway in the first overtime of Saturday night's WCHA Final Face-off semifinal at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. UMD won 2-1 in two overtimes.

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Duluth senior forward Lara Stalder saw the puck float in front of the net on Saturday at Ridder Arena, and the finalist for NCAA Division I women's hockey player of the year knew what to do with it.

"I whacked at it," she said.

Stalder's goal at 11:29 in double overtime lifted the second-ranked Bulldogs to a 2-1 victory over fifth-ranked Minnesota in a WCHA Final Face-Off semifinal before 2,533 at Ridder Arena. It was the longest game in Final Face-Off history, and UMD goalie Maddie Rooney's 62 saves were a WCHA women's playoff record.

"What an unbelievable game," UMD coach Maura Crowell said. "Both sides, back and forth and fast, dynamic players for both teams, but we came out on top in the end. We weathered it out. I can't say enough about the team and the way we persevered."

UMD (25-5-5) plays top-ranked Wisconsin (30-2-4) at 2:07 p.m. Sunday at Ridder Arena for the championship. Minnesota (25-7-5), which got 39 saves from junior Sidney Peters, waits till today's selection show to find out if the Gophers are in, though it appears likely.

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Stalder's goal was reviewed for high-sticking. The rule is a player's stick has to be at four feet, the height of the cross bar, or below when it makes contact with the puck.

Stalder smiled when asked how confident she was in that it was a good goal.

"150 percent," she said. "I knew it wasn't higher than the crossbar."

Minnesota coach Brad Frost, who believes the high-stick rule should be discarded, didn't dispute the goal but said if it wouldn't have been ruled a goal initially, it probably wouldn't have stood up.

"That was just a big-time goal by a big-time player," Frost said. "What a hockey game. We certainly wish we were on the other end of it. I'm really proud of our kids. Sometimes you win games the wrong way, and you lose games the right way. We did lose, but we did things right. If we played like that every game, I'd be ecstatic."

Stalder, a native of Switzerland, was asked if she learned that shot playing softball.

Stalder laughed and said, "I learned it in America."

Rooney, meanwhile, was special. She stopped 17 shots in the first period alone as the Gophers, boosted by the return of star Dani Cameranesi, out two months due to injury, outshot UMD 63-42, including 17-6 in the first period and 20-8 in the first overtime.

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"It was a battle, but you have to do whatever you can to keep the puck out of the net," Rooney said.

Rooney was being too humble.

The sophomore from Andover, Minn., who played high school hockey against the boys, was at another level. She stopped a pair of breakaways in the first overtime, and that is the difference between winning and losing a classic like this one.

"The time of the breakaways, in my mind, it was such a fantastic game, we were going to win, or we were going to lose, but I was happy with the way our team played," Crowell said. "To see Maddie make those stops, unbelievable. She has ice in her veins."

The game eclipsed Minnesota's 5-4 semifinal victory over Ohio State as the longest Final Face-Off game. That one was a short timer compared to this, ending at 3:31 in double overtime.

"Beating the Gophers, at their home, it's been awhile," Stalder said. "It feels unbelievable. Even having our band here, and all the fans, it almost felt like a home game."

Minn. Duluth.... 0-1-0-0-1-2
Minnesota........ 0-1-0-0-0-1
First period - No scoring.
Second period - 1. UMD, Katerina Mrazova 9 (Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Lara Stalder), 12:15 (pp); 2. Minn., Sarah Potomak 19. Penalties - Catherine Daoust, UMD (slashing), 9:59; Cara Piazza, Minn. (checking), 11:54; Katherine McGovern, UMD (boarding), 19:31.
Third period - No scoring. Penalties - Kelly Pannek, Minn. (interference), 4:36; Jalyn Elmes, UMD (tripping), 11:23.
Overtime - No scoring.
Double overtime - 3. UMD, Stalder 23 (Mrazova), 11:29.
Shots on goal - UMD 6-10-11-8-6-41; Minn.. 17-9-12-20-5-63. Goalies - Maddie Rooney, UMD (63 shots-62 saves); Sidney Peters, Minn. (41-39); Power plays - UMD 1-of-2; Minn. 0-of-3. Referees - Robert Ludwig, Shane Paskey. Linesmen - Josh Brown, Ron Laituri. Att. - 2,533.

Related Topics: COLLEGE HOCKEY
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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