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Former Lakeville goalie Chelsea Laden still loving the pressure

By AARON PAITICH, Special to the Star Tribune, 03/15/14, 6:07PM CDT


Former Lakeville South goalie Chelsea Laden helped lead Quinnipiac to its best season ever.

John Hassett, Quinnipiac Athletics Chelsea Laden, Quinnipiac hockey


Nearing the end of the Lakeville girls’ U10 B youth hockey season, the team’s only goalie came down with the stomach flu during the middle of a game. For about 10 minutes, the team played without a goalie.

Rob Laden was one of the coaches. He asked the entire bench if anyone wanted to play goalie. Just one hand went up.

His daughter’s.

“Then, like in the movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ I was like the economics teacher saying, ‘Anyone, anyone, anyone, anyone?’ ” said Rob, who is the new varsity softball coach at Lakeville South. “I kept hoping someone else would raise their hand, but it was only Chelsea. So I dashed her into the locker room and put on her first set of goalie pads.”

Chelsea, who was then a first-year forward scoring a goal per game, went out the next period and put on a show.

“I think in the back of my mind I knew my dad was a college goalie and thought it would be a great opportunity to give it a try,” said Chelsea, now a junior standout netminder who led Quinnipiac to its best season in school history. “I let in eight goals my first time between the pipes, but I absolutely fell in love with the position. I fell in love with the pressure and believed I had what it would take to become a successful goalie.”

And so it began.

She went on to play six years of varsity hockey for Lakeville South, where she was a two-time captain. She earned a scholarship at Quinnipiac, where she saw spot time before blossoming this year as a junior.

Laden posted an impressive .928 save percentage and 1.48 goals-against average in 34 games played. She finished with a 19-6-9 record.

The Bobcats oh-so narrowly missed out on the eight-team NCAA tournament field, which began this weekend. They would have likely faced the two-time defending national champion Gophers if Boston College did not upset Boston University for an automatic bid into the tournament.

Chelsea’s parents, including her mother, Polly, take turns flying out to watch her play. Rob didn’t sleep for 23 hours earlier in the week between games, flights, softball tryouts, parent meetings and tryout tabulations.

“Chelsea always is so thankful and gracious we make the trip out to see her,” said Rob, a father of five current or former athletes. “But for us, it is really a selfish thing. We do it to support her, but we also do it because we love watching all of our children in their sports.”

Chelsea wants to become either a doctor or physician’s assistant. She believes that fits in perfectly with her goaltending persona.

“Like hockey, where being a goalie is a lead role and a high-pressure position, I can see myself being a successful PA or doctor,” said Chelsea, a former Athena Award winner. “When you are put in a situation where people rely on you like hockey or health care, it is not only a huge responsibility but also an honor and a privilege.”

Chelsea is a proud Bobcat who is excited to see the program grow. It may have been a tough way to end the season — barely missing out on the NCAA tournament — but the foundation has been laid.

“I believe this program is well on its way to not only making it to the national tournament but doing some damage there as well,” Chelsea said.

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