Returning for a second season of Boston Blades hockey, Lauren Dahm has emerged as their franchise player. Bringing a combination of tenacity and perseverance, Dahm’s reliability and unwavering approach to the game constantly gives the black and gold a chance to compete.
“We have a lot of fresh faces this year both on the team and the staff and I think this fresh outlook has been good for us. Also, despite what our current record might indicate, I can assure you this is not the Blades team of the past two seasons. With the exception of a game or two, we have been in every game this year.
A bounce here or there, or a one goal swing either for or against, and I’d say we’d be .500. I think our opponents thus far can attest to closeness of these games as well. This club is definitely on it’s way back to contending for a playoff spot/the Clarkson Cup.”
Undoubtedly one of the hardest working goaltenders in all of professional hockey, Dahm’s dedication has set an inspiring and positive example for a team consisting of more than a dozen first-year players.
Considering that this crop of new talent also includes new faces in the goaltending corps, including high-draft pick, Dartmouth Big Green alum Robyn Chemago. Akin to Dahm, both earned honors while competing in the ECAC Conference. During her senior season, Chemago was recognized as a member of the Second Team All-Ivy, while Dahm’s senior season with Clarkson resulted in All-Academic honors and a nomination for the Patty Kazmaier Award.
Although the infusion of new talent has resulted in an obligatory adjustment, which includes some visceral and hard-fought losses, Dahm’s presence continues to instill confidence with each passing game. With hard work by example, it also accounts for strong leadership, which Dahm is proud to take on,
“Yes for sure. Last year I was breaking back into the game and establishing myself. With last season under my belt, I have definitely felt like more of a leader this year. Leading by example has always been my style and I think it has shown through from the goal out.”
Of note, Dahm’s finest effort during the first half of a very historic season in league lore took place overseas. With the Blades travelling to Shenzen, China, to challenge both expansion teams, the Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays, their first matches in the Pacific, Dahm displayed world-class skill, standing shoulder-to-shoulder against her goaltending counterparts; Noora Raty and Elaine Chuli.
Having once competed for USA Hockey’s Under-22 women’s national team, the sojourn to China definitely added to Dahm’s international legacy, part of a tremendous body of work. Dahm’s brilliance was evident once again as Shenzen, China presented a new setting.
Making four starts in five days from December 16-20, Dahm bravely faced pucks, flying at high velocity, a tremendous effort that quickly became a shared one, with assiduous teammates looking to reciprocate at the opposite end of the ice, aspirations of a victorious result.
Against the Kunlun Red Star, there was a unique sense of connection, as Red Star head coach Digit Murphy led the Blades to a pair of Clarkson Cup titles in 2013 and 2015.
In her first game against the Red Star, Dahm made 43 saves in a valiant performance. She continued such strong play throughout all the contests in China, giving the Blades a fighting chance
“China was incredible. Literally can’t say enough about it to even begin to describe how amazing it was and what it meant to this team. To have the opportunity to travel across the world and play the game we love was awesome. It was special for sure and I’ll never forget it. Hockey has taken me lots of places and afforded me many experiences in my life and this was one for the books!”
At the holiday break, Dahm was the league leader in games played (15), shots against (516), and minutes played (786). Coincidentally, Elaine Chuli ranks second in all these statistical categories. Chuli also possesses a similar background to Dahm, having starred for Canada’s U22 team. She also competed collegiately in the US Northeast, starring with the Connecticut Huskies.
That first half saw Dahm combined for 80 saves in pair of inspiring October performances against Montreal (road) and on home ice against Calgary. Making 55 saves against the Vanke Rays on November 4, Dahm brilliantly executed her duties, essential in forcing a shootout against the high flying expansion club. This three game set on home ice saw Dahm recorded a cumulative total of 109 saves
December would set the stage for well-deserved recognition, gaining a newfound appreciation for this franchise goaltender. During the time frame spanning December 4-10, Dahm has been named the ADT Goalie of the Week.
On the road against Markham, she recorded 40 saves, forcing a shootout in the hopes of providing the Blades with their first win of the season. In spite of the eventual loss, Dahm was just as solid in the second, recording 34 saves. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that she had a cumulative save percentage of .948, complemented by a sparkling goals against average of 1.96, making a strong case as one of the league’s best backstops.
Just two weeks later, the holidays would bring with it a cherished gift for Dahm, earning her second ADT Goalie of the Week honor. Recognized for her .881 save percentage in the pair of road losses against the Vanke Rays, she definitely gained the respect and admiration of fans and peers alike.
“It never hurts to feel supported as a goalie and I definitely feel the support of the fans through social media and in person, regardless of how the votes shake out for awards. It did, however, mean a lot to get that validation and win the award 2 of the last 3 weeks. I’m ready to keep that momentum rolling into the 2nd half of the season!”
With the arrival of the New Year, Dahm’s tireless efforts brought with it a solid start. As Kacy Ambroz took the coaching reins, the team responded with a win in her coaching debut, definitely infusing the team with a positive attitude to start the second half, and the push towards postseason possibilities.
Opposing fellow goaltender Sonja van der Bliek, Dahm stopped 37 of 39 shots, as the Blades emerged victorious in a 4-2 final. Although Toronto would tie the game at 2-apiece with less than 90 seconds remaining in the first, Dahm assembled two straight periods of shutout hockey, preventing the Furies from taking the lead. With Boston College alum Taylor Wasylk scoring the first goal of her CWHL career in the second period, said goal would stand as the game-winning tally. Gaining the assists on this landmark goal were Casey Stathopoulos and Chelsey Goldberg.
Scoring in the third period was Kate Leary, putting the game out of reach for the opposition. Dahm, who deservedly gained Third Star of the Game recognition was joined by teammate Melissa Bizzari among the game’s Three Stars, recognized for her efforts as the First Star. For Dahm and her jubilant teammates, it was a win that was emblematic of the effort and commitment that encompasses the role of being a professional, one estimably demonstrated by Dahm since she first donned the black and gold jersey. Undeniably, that milestone win was also an important tribute to Dahm’s amazing work ethic, whose efforts over two seasons have made her the cornerstone of a team she proudly stands between the pipes for.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: BDZ Sports, Jess Bazal. Other images obtained from CWHL website