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Klaman comes through: Junior scores twice as Midgets collect wins on back-to-back nights

Through the first 33 minutes of a non-conference matchup against Mandan, the Dickinson High girls hockey team were left skating on their heels as the visitors thoroughly controlled the pace on the ice.

Dickinson junior defender Taia Klaman takes a shot just past the blue line against Mandan on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from the West River Ice River. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson junior defender Taia Klaman takes a shot just past the blue line against Mandan on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from the West River Ice River. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

Through the first 33 minutes of a non-conference matchup against Mandan, the Dickinson High girls hockey team were left skating on their heels as the visitors thoroughly controlled the pace on the ice.

As she has done from the first game of the season, Midgets junior defender Taia Klaman rose to the occasion. After scoring the game-tying goal late in the second period, Klaman, the state's top goal-scorer, produced the go-ahead goal early in the third, lifting Dickinson to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from the West River Ice Center.

After Dickinson won a faceoff in front of the Midgets net just before the second intermission, junior forward Ali Lafond carried the puck into the zone with a strong rush as Klaman was to her right and one defender skated between them. Lafond closed in on net, getting the defender and Braves sophomore goaltender Trystin Neustel to bite, which allowed a wide-open Klaman the opportunity to knot the game at 1-1.

"Ali and I were both skating up and it was one of those things that if I lost the puck, she'd get it, and if she lost the puck, I'd get it." Klaman said. "We had one defender, but right in front of the net, (Lafond) dropped it right in front of me and I just grabbed it and shot. I think we just confused the goaltender and the defender. She got it by her, it was a really good play."

Early in the third period, after receiving a pass from senior forward Kamryn Kuntz, Klaman skated into the right circle. Rather than pass to a teammate as traffic built up in front of the net, she rocketed a wrister from a difficult angle, sneaking the go-ahead score by Neustel.

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"We were on the power play and Kamryn was cutting around the circle. I moved over to shape into the umbrella play," Klaman said. "She got me the puck, we had girls in front of the net screaming and I don't think the goalie saw the shot. It went in and off the blocker, that was another good play."

With two minutes and 37 seconds remaining in regulation, the Midgets played the rest of the game on the penalty kill as senior defender Kennedy Kuntz was called for a five-minute major following a scary collision by the boards with Mandan forward Emily Froelich. The sophomore laid motionless on the ice for more than two minutes before being helped off with a possible shoulder injury.

Mandan came up short in its attempt to equalize, as the Midgets cleared the puck four times, not allowing their opponents to get off a quality chance. Klaman closed out the night with a breakaway chance in the final seconds. While Neustel came up with her 17th save of the night as time expired, Dickinson emerged with its second victory in as many nights.

"Like coach (Kira Kuntz) says, it's fun to win," Dickinson head coach Al Takle said. "We were able to hold them off there in the first period. It did seem like we were a little sluggish from last night playing. ... We were about to really bring the play to them in the third period and that's how we got the win."

Neither team produced any scoring chances after the initial puck drop. The game's first shot came five minutes and 10 seconds into the opening frame when Braves freshman forward Margaux Kautzmann swooped in front, but her shot from close range was stoned by Midgets senior goaltender Baylee Kram.

From there, the visitors dominated the rest of the period as Dickinson struggled to get into its offensive zone and Braves defenders forced turnovers and errant passes.

On Mandan's eighth shot of the first, senior defender Kali Berg fired a hard slap-shot into Kram's glove, but with just over three minutes remaining in the period, the road team's consistent pressure eventually paid off when junior forward Ashley Patrick got a wrister by the stick of Midgets netminder. At the end of the period, Dickinson was out-shot 11-2.

"I think the girls hustled their butts (off)," Braves assistant head coach Kailey Seedorf said. "I also think that their passing was on and their forecheck was getting it out of the zone. Looking at the shot count too, we put probably the most shots-on-net (in a game) all year. So, that's one of the positives."

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Action remained the same in the second frame as Mandan continued to look like the faster and fresher team. However, Kram kept the Midgets' hopes alive, collecting 15 of her 30 saves in the middle frame.

Her last stop of the period was possibly her finest. Seconds after Klaman's game-tying score, sophomore forward Ana Ross skated free on a breakaway, but as the time ticked down, Ross' attempt to regain momentum was turned away by the senior in goal.

"She just kept us in it," Takle said of Kram's performance. "Both first and second period, they out-shot us. We weren't able to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, so not only is she making saves, but she has to be ready all the time. That wears out a goalie, but she's our bedrock. ... She has to hold us up sometimes so that we can get some opportunities on the offensive end."

Dickinson 2, Mandan 1

M 1 0 0 - 1

D 0 1 1 - 2

FIRST PERIOD: 1, M, Ashley Patrick, 13:56.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, D, Taia Klaman (Ali Lafond), 16:39.

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THIRD PERIOD: 2, D, Taia Klaman (Kamryn Kuntz), 1:48.

SAVES: M, Trystand 2-5-10-17. D, Baylee Kram 10-15-5-30.

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOLDICKINSON MIDGETS
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