College women's hockey: Versatile Stalder keys UMD sweep of North Dakota
The versatility of senior forward Lara Stalder proved pivotal again Saturday for second-ranked Minnesota Duluth. The Olympic bronze medalist from Switzerland and candidate for national player of the year scored the game-winning goal early in the ...
The versatility of senior forward Lara Stalder proved pivotal again Saturday for second-ranked Minnesota Duluth.
The Olympic bronze medalist from Switzerland and candidate for national player of the year scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, then dropped back to play the blue line in a 2-1 WCHA victory over North Dakota in front of 2,315 at Amsoil Arena.
Stalder, who leaves for a week starting Sunday to join the Swiss national team for Olympic qualifying, tallied her 19th goal and 45th point of the season 70 seconds after the Fighting Hawks tied the game at 1-1 early in the third. She was assisted by senior forward Ashleigh Brykaliuk on the goal, allowing the captain to run her point streak to 19 games.
Stalder fired the deciding shot through traffic from an unfavorable angle, sandwiched between the end line and bottom of the faceoff circle. She put away her seventh game-winning goal of the season anyway while also extending her own point streak to nine games.
"We had a good odd-man rush," Stalder said of her goal. "I stopped and I had the puck and I didn't even see it going in. I just saw the light going off.
"It's nice to get the go-ahead, especially right after they scored to rebound back."
Just before North Dakota (13-11-6 overall, 10-9-5 WCHA) tied the game 2 1/2 minutes into the third period, the Bulldogs (20-4-4, 17-4-3) lost junior defenseman Jessica Healey to an apparent lower-body injury that left the native of Edmonton, Alberta, crawling back to the UMD bench after twisting her leg awkwardly to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Once up 2-1, UMD coach Maura Crowell dropped Stalder from first-line forward to Healey's spot alongside junior defenseman Catherine Daoust. Fourth-line freshman wing Morgan Morse took Stalder's spot.
"I'll play where coach puts me," Stalder said. "I played D before. I played D on the PK."
Stalder began her Bulldogs career as a defenseman and had previously played the blue line with the Swiss national team before being moved up to forward on both squads.
Crowell has started using Stalder at defense in certain situations this season, moving the 2014 bronze medalist back to the blue line on special teams or late in games when her squad needs to toughen up defensively.
Or in Saturday's case, Crowell moved the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award contender because the team lost one of its top defensemen to injury.
"Unbelievable versatility, great to have in our back pocket a player like that who can go back on D and make some really savvy plays back there," Crowell said. "She is getting a done all over the place."
Freshman center Sydney Brodt gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead less than four minutes in, snapping a six-game pointless streak and 16-game goalless streak. Brodt found herself wide open in the slot for the goal, which required her to drop down to one knee to corral the puck with her skate and get the shot off.
Stalder said Brodt called her shot after Friday's 2-0 win over North Dakota, saying the scoring drought was coming to an end.
"I was definitely frustrated because it's tough not being able to get goals," Brodt said. "I was trying to grind through it and keep playing tough, playing for the team. I was glad to get the drought over with."
UMD sophomore goalie Maddie Rooney finished with 28 saves. She had her shutout streak come to an end at 207 minutes, 11 seconds when Fighting Hawks senior wing Marissa Salo of Grand Rapids tipped a puck that came off the stick of senior defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak.
Rooney, who went 10 periods without allowing a goal over the last four games, made a big save in the closing seconds to preserve the win and weekend sweep. The save also allowed the UMD men's and women's hockey programs to finish the regular season a combined 7-0-1 against the University of North Dakota.
North Dakota........................... 0-0-1-1
Minnesota Duluth.................... 1-0-1-2
First period - 1. UMD, Sydney Brodt 4 (Brooklyn Schugel, Maria Lindh), 3:46.
Second period - No scoring.
Third period - 2. ND, Marissa Salo 2 (Halli Krzyzaniak, Vilma Tanskanen), 2:36; 3. UMD, Lara Stalder 19 (Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Katherine McGovern), 3:46.
Saves - Lexie Shaw, ND, 5-8-7-20; Maddie Rooney, UMD, 8-9-11-28.