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Women’s ice hockey goaltender Chelsea Laden tops NCAA Division I with a .974 save percentage this season
After starting the season ranked No. 10 in the country, the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team has now risen to No. 5 and continues to build momentum.
While many factors have contributed to the Bobcats’ 7-0-1 start, few can argue the play of senior goalie Chelsea Laden, as well as the team’s defense, have been a driving force to its success this year.
Laden, the ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Month in October, has been reliable in net for the Bobcats all season. Laden has gone 7-0-0 in seven starts, posting an 0.29 goals against average.
Laden tops all of Division I women’s ice hockey goalies with a .974 percent save percentage on the season. She is also leading the nation with five shutouts, which is the fourth most shutouts in a season by any goalie in Quinnipiac program history.
The Bobcats currently own a nation-leading 0.38 goals against average, which Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley credits to Laden’s dependability in net all season.
“Chelsea had a great year last year, but when she wasn’t on, and she gave up a poor goal, she would get in her own head and usually let up another soon after,” Seeley said. “This year, she has overcome that, and has yet to allow a bad goal all year.”
Laden also notes the growth in confidence that both she and her team have undergone since last season.
“I feel like our team is a lot more confident this year,” Laden said. “We are making the right plays at the right time, and we are more focused into the little details of the game. Our team is also buying into the system more, and since we’ve been winning all it has done is add to our confidence.”
Laden and the Bobcats are coming off a record-setting game, recording the first shutout win in program history at Cornell, which was also the first time Cornell had been shut out at home since Nov. 17, 2006.
“I actually had no idea about that statistic until I saw it posted after the game,” Laden said. “I think it shows how far we have come as a team to be able to go and shut out a program like Cornell, who has been ranked for as long as I can remember. Little accomplishments like this just continue to add to our confidence.”
Despite the individual statistics and acclaim that has been coming her way, Laden remains humble, crediting those in front of her for such success.
“People are talking about the stats recently, which I don’t think is indicative of anything spectacular that I am doing or of how I am playing,” Laden said. “I think it is more of a result of how amazing and consistent our team has been playing, and I feel so blessed to be the goalie for such a dominant and disciplined team.”
Moving forward, Laden hopes to remain a consistent force in net for the Bobcats.
“I want to stop all of the easy shots, most of the hard shots and some of the impossible shots I face,” Laden said. “Whether I am facing 14 shots or, maybe someday I’ll get 30 shots, I want to be able to be consistent so I can give back to the team seeing as they have given so much to me.”
And for Seeley, Laden’s consistency has been key in the evolution of her game.
“She is doing a great job learning from her mistakes and maturing, and becoming the goalie we now see.”
And on a grander scale, Laden also offered up insight into the team’s goals for the rest of the season. The Bobcats would like to win the ECAC, Laden says, and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
“Reaching the national tournament is something that has always been a goal for us, and this year we have become a step closer to reaching that goal,” Laden said. “Last year we had the talent, we only had six losses, but we also had a lot of ties, and we learned that amping up our game that much more can boost us into the national tournament, even though it will take a lot of hard work and consistency to get us there.”
Laden and the Bobcats look to continue their winning streak as they hosts Rensselaer at High Point Solutions Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.