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Goalie injury latest challenge for Western Wisconsin Stars

Stars senior Alli Wielinski (7) battles a Superior player for control of the puck during last Thursday’s game.

It seems that every week throws a new curve at the Western Wisconsin Stars girls hockey team.

The latest calamity that has befallen the Stars is an injury to starting goaltender Tina Montpetit. Montpetit was pulled out of last Thursday’s game against Superior after one period because of a back injury. The Stars ended up losing that game 9-4 and they lost to the St. Croix Valley Fusion 6-0 on Saturday.

Stepping in for Montpetit is senior Alice Gramenz, who has never played goalie in an official game before. To add to the challenge, Gramenz has been injured since the second day of practice this season. Thursday was the first day she was eligible to play in a game.

Stars coach Emily Dabrowski said Gramenz has made incredibly quick progress, including stopping 31 of 37 shots against the state-ranked Fusion.

“She’s figuring it out, which is pretty awesome. We’re darn lucky to have her,” Dabrowski said.

Superior scored twice in the first period of Thursday’s game against Montpetit. The Stars goalie tried to play with a back injury, but she and the coaches agreed that she needed to rest the back after the first period.

Gramenz stepped in and gave up three goals in one burst, but it was nothing like the outburst the Stars finished the period with. The Stars scored three goals in an amazing 49-second flurry that cut Superior’s lead to 5-4.

Senior Ashley Dusek scored the first of those goals on a power play. Before that goal could be announced, junior Bailey Erickson scored nine seconds later, redirecting a shot by the Emma Lepper nine seconds after Dusek’s goal. The third goal in the trifecta was scored by Kaylin Gamache, completing the first multi-goal game of her career.

Superior scored four unanswered goals in the third period to put the game out of reach.

There might have been some apprehension in facing the 10-4 Fusion on Saturday. In the face of that challenge the Stars rose up with an excellent effort. They held the Fusion to one goal in the first period, three in the second and two in the third.

“The girls played great against the Fusion,” Dabrowski said. “The defense did a fabulous job of clearing out in front of the net. Everybody stepped up to help Alice.”

One of the fortunate things for the Stars is they have a nine-day break between games to heal their injuries.  The next game for the Stars is against another state-ranked opponent. The Stars will play at Eau Claire on Monday, with the game at Hobbs Ice Arena.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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