Tending to the team’s needs: Rookie goalies coming through for Minnesota

Brittony Chartier is third in the WCHA with a 1.26 goals against average.

Zach Eisendrath

Using the word adjustment wouldn’t justly describe Minnesota’s women’s hockey team’s current goaltender situation.

“Massive overhaul” would be much better.

After rotating the same two goalies in and out of the net the past four years, the Gophers have come into this season with a brand new goalie crop from which to choose.

Gone are standout goalies Jody Horak and Brenda Reinen, who combined for a 1.34 goals against average and a .931 save percentage last season.

Enter freshmen Brittony Chartier and Kim Hanlon, along with senior transfer Natalie Lammé to navigate the position.

“It’s very different this year,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “What I see is that we have three goalies now who are battling for ice time.”

Chartier has started the first four games for No. 4 Minnesota (3-1, 2-0 WCHA) and doesn’t figure to lose her starting spot if she continues her early season success.

Thus far, the 6-foot goalie from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has been nothing short of remarkable. Chartier has compiled a 3-1 record with two shutouts. In total, she holds a .939 save percentage and 1.26 goals against average this season.

Chartier knew she would have to alter her game for the college scene, but credits her teammates for making her transition an easy one.

“It’s been a major adjustment to come here,” Chartier said. “It’s a different style of play. But the team’s been very instrumental in helping me out. Slowly but surely, I think I’m getting better everyday.”

On the road against Bemidji State last weekend, Chartier had a .941 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average.

For her efforts, she was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Week.

“It’s a nice compliment and that’s how I’m taking it,” Chartier said. “I’m happy with the direction that I’m going. I need to be better everyday. I’m not satisfied. You always want to get better.”

Lammé hasn’t had as easy a time adjusting to her new surroundings.

She decided to transfer from Ohio State following the 2003-2004 season but sat out last season due to WCHA transfer rules.

This was supposed to be her time to shine.

“Coming in and not having an opportunity to play right off the bat, it works a lot on your mental game,” Lammé said. “I just need to stay focused and work hard in practice.”

Lammé – a graduate of Hibbing High School – came to the Gophers to be closer to her family, but also to compete. She didn’t necessarily expect to start right away, but to at least be given a fair shot at the job.

“I expected to come here and have an opportunity to play and have my coaches have confidence in me,” she said.

But does she feel she deserves to be at the top of the depth chart?

“I just think I deserve what my coaches think,” Lammé said. “I think roles change throughout the year, but one constant role I feel I will always have is supporting my teammates and working as hard as I can and supporting the decisions of our coaches.”

Halldorson said she believes the position has better depth than in years past.

“I think we’re in good shape,” Halldorson said. “I have a lot of confidence. I know they will all continue to improve as the season goes on.”

Halldorson said she isn’t sure when Lammé and Hanlon will hit the ice, but isn’t ready to label a definite starter.

“We haven’t necessarily defined roles yet because it is so early,” Halldorson said. “I think the message to (Lammé and Hanlon) has been to keep working hard because we need them ready to go at any point in time. This is still an evaluation period.”