A Win, and a Loss: Big Green Victory Tempered by Standout’s Leg Injury
Dartmouth College forward Laura Stacey is taken off the Thompson Arena ice by personnel including medical trainer Chad Johnson, second from left. Stacey suffered a leg injury late in the second period and did not return to the ECAC contest against Colgate. Valley News - Tris Wykes
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Dartmouth College defenseman Olivia Whitford, left, fires a slap shot past Colgate's Stephanie Giannopoulos on Friday during the first period of the teams' ECAC game at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Dartmouth College’s women’s hockey coach Mark Hudak was conducting a postgame interview Friday when the sight and sound of star forward Laura Stacey inching down the hallway on aluminum crutches stopped his sentence.
Her color pale and her expression grim, Stacey halted at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Big Green locker room. The sophomore hopped a step at a time with considerable effort, one leg immobilized beneath baggy sweat pants.
The Ontario native’s discomfort and determination was so vivid, that once she passed out of sight, Hudak and several others exhaled in unison. It was difficult to watch and thoughts of Dartmouth’s 2-1 victory over Colgate were pushed to the side.
Roughly 45 minutes earlier, Stacey had been cruising through the offensive zone when an opponent and a teammate crossed skates and the former lurched into an unintentional dive. The Colgate player’s momentum carried her into Stacey’s leg and slow-motion, video replays in the press box showed it flopping unnaturally as the Canadian U22 national team member tumbled on to her back with less than a minute remaining in the second period.
Stacey writhed on her side and cried out in agony as Dartmouth trainer Chad Johnson raced off the bench to examine her. The left wing pounded the ice with a gloved fist and kicked her other leg repeatedly. A Thompson Arena crowd announced at 624 fell silent as a stretcher was trotted on to the ice and Stacey, her face wet with tears, removed upon it.
“It’s a terrible feeling watching your teammate in so much pain,” said sophomore Lindsey Allen, who also played junior hockey with Stacey in Toronto. “You have to realize that at that moment, you can’t do anything for her except play for her and get the win. We were dead after that and we had to regroup in the dressing room.”
Regroup the Big Green did, getting the winner from Allen with 10:29 on the third-period clock. The big winger cut through center ice, received a Karlee Odland pass and powered her way through the left circle and around a Colgate defender. Cutting sharply to the top of the crease, Allen used her backhand to shove the puck through goaltender Brittney Brooks’ legs.
“At the last second, I put it on net, because I was about to go past it,” Allen said. “I didn’t know it went through (Brooks’) 5-hole until someone on the bench told me. I had no idea how it went in; I just saw it in the back of the net.”
Said Hudak: “You get on the defenseman’s hip and you make them turn and it’s not about being pretty at that point. It’s about staying strong on your skates, protecting the puck and good things will happen. That’s a great goal, but it’s one of the few times we’ve done it this season.”
Dartmouth’s Cartherine Berghuis notched the first period’s lone tally on a breakaway during the second minute, racing up the right side of the slot and beating Las Vegas native Brooks on the short side and over her glove. Colgate forged a tie three minutes into the second stanza.
“We let down and they controlled the tempo in that period,” said Hudak, whose team improved to 2-6 overall and 2-5 in ECAC play. “But we were resilient in the third period and came back like we hadn’t in the past. The kids found a way to get a big goal.”
Dartmouth began the season already a bit short on players as Hudak tried to correct an imbalance among his classes by bringing in only seven freshmen to replace nine seniors lost to graduation earlier this year. Sophomore forward Ailish Forfar was lost for the season to hip surgery and now Stacey is out indefinitely. Hudak, who is now down to nine forwards and six defensemen, said after the game he had not yet received a diagnosis on Stacey’s injury.
“This is a tough one,” Hudak said. “She’s on our power play and she’s been getting more time on our penalty kill ... but we’ve talked about sticking with our plan no matter what happens. I checked on her and then we just changed our lines and said ‘Let’s go get ’em.’ ”
Cornell (7-0-2, 5-0-2), ranked third in the country, tied at No. 6 Harvard on Friday and arrives in Hanover for a 4 p.m. game today, so Dartmouth has little time to relax. The Big Green will have to try and carry momentum from the Colgate victory against a foe that won both the ECAC regular season and tournament titles last season.
“For me, the confidence from this game comes from the kids not giving up and doing what we asked them to do,” Hudak said. “For them, it stems from them working harder and being more consistent when they were wondering if they could score, if they could win.”
Notes: Dartmouth is in a three-way tie for seventh place in the 12-team ECAC. … The Big Green is 1-2 at Thompson Arena this season after going 7-2-4 in the building last winter. … Dartmouth has been outscored 19-10 this season. … Colgate junior Miriam Drubel, a former Hanover High athlete, entered the weekend leading her team with nine points in 12 games. … Katie Milligan, a junior goaltender who appeared in eight games in three Dartmouth seasons, is no longer with the program. … Colgate (3-10, 1-6) holds a shootout contest the day before each game. Scorers exit the ice and the last player left has to wear a garish, gold-painted helmet during warmups prior to the next contest. Senior Caroline Potolicchio had the honor Friday.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.