Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.
The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) made its debut in Minnesota last weekend and league officials couldn’t have scripted a more successful couple of games.
The Minnesota Whitecaps introduced itself to an excited fan base and scored a pair of victories before sellout crowds at the sparkling new TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul.
Not surprisingly, a number of former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) players were instrumental in the Whitecaps’ sweep over the Metropolitan Riveters, the defending Isobel Cup champions in the NWHL. Katie McGovern, who played at Minnesota Duluth, scored the first goal for the expansion team and three former Minnesota stars, who have thrilled women’s hockey fans for years at Ridder Arena, moved across the river to stir the Whitecaps’ followers. Hannah Brandt, the former Gophers’ all-American, and Kate Schipper each scored goals and Amanda Leveille, who led Buffalo to the Isobel Cup finals in the NWHL last year, made 19 saves to backbone the 4-0 victory.
The Minneapolis Tribune has an account of the Whitecaps’ first game here: http://www.startribune.com/whitecaps-win-first-nwhl-game-4-0-over-metropolitan-riveters/495360641/
The Whitecaps completed the sweep Sunday with a 3-1 victory. Brandt, who played for the gold-medal-winning USA Olympic team last season, scored a goal again, Schipper chipped in two assists and another ex-Gopher, Lee Stecklein, also had an assist for the Whitecaps. Leveille made 21 saves, but allowed a goal by former Wisconsin defenseman Jenny Ryan. Amanda Kessel, a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner at Minnesota, and ex-Wisconsin defenseman Courtney Burke had assists on the goal. Katie Fitzgerald, a former St. Cloud State goalie, made 17 saves for the Riveters.
In the NWHL’s other game on opening weekend, Dani Cameranesi, the former Minnesota star who played for Team USA and won Olympic gold last season, assisted on two first period goals to help Buffalo to a 4-0 victory over Connecticut in Stamford, Conn.
There are 55 WCHA alumnae on the opening rosters of the two North American professional hockey leagues for women.
The NWHL opened its fourth season with 34 former WCHA stars dotting their five team rosters. The Whitecaps feature 17 former WCHA players, while the Metropolitan Riveters, who won the NWHL title last season, have eight ex-WCHA players.
The Minnesota Gophers have 11 former WCHA players competing in the NWHL, including six on the Whitecaps, while St. Cloud State has seven alumnae in the league and Wisconsin six, five of whom play for the Riveters. McGovern is one of four former UMD players in the NWHL, while North Dakota and Ohio State have two players apiece and Minnesota State one.
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) opens play this Saturday, Oct. 13. It has six teams in three countries – the U.S., Canada and China – and features 21 former WCHA players.
The CWHL was founded in 2007. Markham is the defending champion and has four WCHA players on its roster. Former Minnesota Duluth coach Shannon Miller is in her first season coaching Calgary.
Wisconsin has eight former players in the CWHL, while UMD has seven. Minnesota and North Dakota each have two players in the league, while Ohio State and Bemidji State have one player in the league.
There are more WCHA alumnae playing in these two pro leagues than any other season.
Here are the WCHA alumnae on NWHL and CWHL season-opening team rosters:
Boston (1): Gigi Marvin, Minnesota.
Buffalo (4): Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota; Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Julianna Iafallo, Ohio State.
Connecticut (4): Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; Michelle Löwenhielm, Minnesota Duluth; Katerina Mrázová, Minnesota Duluth; Nina Rodgers, Minnesota.
Metropolitan (8): Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota; Erika Lawler, Wisconsin; Kelly Nash, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Jenny Ryan, Wisconsin; Lexi Slattery, St. Cloud State.
Minnesota (17): Lauren Barnes, Minnesota State; Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Winny Brodt Brown, Minnesota; Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal, Minnesota; Tanja Eischenschmid, North Dakota; Julie Friend, St. Cloud State; Kalli Funk, St. Cloud State; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota; Sadie Lundquist, Bemidji State; Lisa Martinson, St. Cloud State; Katie McGovern, Minnesota Duluth; Amy Menke, North Dakota; Meaghan Pezon, St. Cloud State; Kate Schipper, Minnesota; Haylea Schmid, St. Cloud State; Emma Stauber, Minnesota Duluth; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota.
Calgary (6): Coached by Shannon Miller (Minnesota Duluth); Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Halli Krzyzaniak, North Dakota; Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin.
Montréal (2): Catherine Daoust, Minnesota Duluth; Hilary Knight, Wisconsin.
Markham (3): Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth.
Shenzen (China) KRS Vanke Rays (3): Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Noora Räty, Minnesota; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth.
Toronto (5): Mellissa Channell, Wisconsin; Jordan Hampton, North Dakota; Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin; Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State.
Worcester (2): Jessica Convery, Minnesota Duluth; Lauren Williams, Wisconsin.