As the Boston Blades continue to rebuild with the hopes of retaining Clarkson Cup glories from seasons past, one of the key figures in helping turn the tide stands between the pipes. Despite being in her first season of professional ice hockey, goaltender Lauren Dahm brings a wealth of experience that makes her experienced far beyond her rookie status.
Having competed with the prestigious Clarkson Golden Knights at the NCAA level, highlighted by one season as the national leader in goals against average, Dahm earned an opportunity to compete with USA Hockey’s Under-22 Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Her prodigious goaltending skills shine brightly for an ambitious Blades team aiming for a postseason berth in 2017.
Facing off in a weekend series against the Toronto Furies, Dahm amassed a total of 88 saves in two games played, while facing a total of 94 shots. Although it was a typical weekend for Dahm, who has established herself as the hardest working goaltender in professional ice hockey, fearlessly facing a barrage of shot, devoted to providing her team a chance to win, the countless efforts paid off with the first win of her career as a member of the Boston Blades.
Undoubtedly, Dahm has earned serious consideration for an opportunity to compete at the 2017 CWHL All-Star Game. From the outset, Dahm is the league leader in saves, having heroically racked up an astonishing 462. Despite having allowed 519 goals against, 302 more than runner-up Christina Kessler of the Toronto Furies and 306 more than Liz Knox of the Brampton Thunder, the reality is that if the Blades did not have Dahm as their last line of defense, that number could be significant higher.
With 627 minutes played, ranking first overall among her peers in the CWHL, Charline Labonte of Montreal is the only other goalie with more than 500 minutes played, accounting for 543. In addition, Dahm is also the league leader in games played with 12, as Labonte trails her with 9 games.
In 12 appearances, Dahm has faced more than 50 shots on six separate appearances, including in her CWHL debut, when she made 54 saves in a valiant effort that saw the Toronto Furies prevail in overtime on home ice. Fittingly, she was recognized as the Second Star of the Game, while fellow CWHL rookie, Renata Fast (claimed second overall by Toronto in the 2016 CWHL Draft) gained First Star honors.
As the season has progressed, Dahm has emerged among the league leaders in the category of Three Star selections. Among the admirable performances that Dahm has assembled this season, gaining such well-deserved recognition, her most impressive took place in a November 13 road match against the first-place Canadiennes de Montreal.
Despite Caroline Ouellette, the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer, registering her first hat trick of the season, it was Dahm who stole the show, gaining the respect of the Montreal fans as she faced 65 shots, making 59 saves to gain recognition as the First Star of the Game. As a side note, opposing goaltender Catherine Herron (whose uncle Denis once played for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins) gained the nod as the Third Star.
Taking on her predecessor Genevieve Lacasse (the Blades starting goaltender for three seasons) in a November 26 road match in Calgary, emotions were high for both goaltenders. Dahm faced an astounding 52 shots, denying the defending Clarkson Cup champions on five power play chances, in a hard-fought loss that definitely made an impression with Western Canadian hockey fans. For her efforts, Dahm gained Second Star recognition, sandwiched between a pair of Calgary skaters, First Star Meghan Mikkelson and Third Star Erica Kromm.
The path towards the milestone of Dahm’s first win with the Blades brought the first half of her season full circle. Returning to Toronto’s MasterCard Centre, the site of her CWHL debut, she would gain the start in both games of a weekend series against the Furies. The first game of said series against Toronto was a December 10 affair that was highlighted by two significant events, among which resulted in Dahm making 50 saves on 54 shots, her third 50+ save performance this season. Opposing Dahm was CWHL co-founder Sami Jo Small, making her first appearance guarding the Furies crease since giving birth to her daughter. Small made 23 saves in a 4-3 final that saw Kate Leary score twice for the Blades in a hard fought loss. As a side note, Small’s win was her first since January 11, 2015, a 33-save performance to defeat the Montreal Stars by a 3-2 tally.
Facing 40 shots in the second game, Dahm showed tremendous composure despite giving up a pair of goals in the first period to rookie sensations Michela Cava and Jenna Dingeldein. Blades captain Tara Watchorn would boost the club’s confidence with a second period goal, also her first of the season. The 7:57 mark of the third period saw Nicole Giannino log an unassisted goal against Sonja van der Bliek, the current leader in Goals Against Average, to tie the game. Dahm would also help her own cause by nullifying six Furies power play opportunities.
As overtime could not resolve the 2-2 deadlock, the obligatory shootout would supply the heroics, while providing Dahm with her finest hour. Megan Myers, a member of the Blades’ 2015 Clarkson Cup championship team would score the first shootout goal, followed by Melissa Bizzari. Shooting for the Furies were a pair of players who have also made appearances for Canada’s national women’s ice hockey team. Jenelle Kohanchuk, a former scoring sensation with Boston University, and Erin Ambrose, who followed Dahm as a member of the Clarkson Golden Knights, were both denied in the shootout, as a jubilant Dahm provided the Blades with their first win of the season.
Recognized as the First Star of the Game, while teammate Kate Leary gained Third Star honors, (the Second Star nod went to Michela Cava), the opportunity to gain that elusive first win may prove to be the turning point of the season, providing the Blades with a boost of confidence heading into the second half of the season. Despite the Blades’ current woes in last place for the first half of the season, there is no question that Dahm has gained the respect and admirations of fans, teammates and opponents alike, testament to her countless efforts this season. Regardless of the season’s final outcome, the Blades, and subsequently the CWHL, have found a goaltending gem in Dahm.