Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.
After losing a one-goal decision Saturday in a game between the top two teams in the National Women's Hockey League, the Minnesota Whitecaps needed a big performance Sunday.
They got it from Amy Menke.
The former North Dakota star scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Whitecaps to a 4-1 victory over Connecticut. Hannah Brandt, the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year while at Minnesota, had a goal and an assist for the visiting Whitecaps and Brandt's former teammate at Minnesota, Amanda Leveille, made 26 saves. Ex-Minnesota Duluth forward Michelle Lowenhielm had the lone goal for the Whale.
On Saturday, the Whitecaps saw Boston score five first period goals and then hang on for 5-4 victory over Minnesota before a sellout crowd at Warrior Arena in Boston. Another ex-Gopher, Gigi Marvin, had an assist for the Pride in their big first period outburst which came in the first game since the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League announced plans for a partnership with the Pride.
Details of that agreement are in this story: https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/01/10/bruins-partnership-with-nwhls-boston-pride-a-big-step-forward/
Menke almost spoiled the Boston party Saturday with a goal and an assist against the Pride and Kate Schipper, another Minnesota alum, had two assists. Lee Stecklein, the Gophers' two-time Olympian, also had an assist for the Whitecaps and Leveille made 20 stops in the battle for the league lead.
The Buffalo Beauts kept pace with the leaders by scoring a 5-1 victory over the Metropolitan Riveters in the team's first meeting since the Isobel Cup championship game last March. Julianna Iafallo, a former Ohio State forward, had a goal and an assist for the Beauts and ex-Ohio State defenseman Lisa Chesson added an assist for the defending NWHL champs. Dani Cameranesi, a former Minnesota all-American, also had an assist for Buffalo.
Madison Packer, a former Wisconsin forward, had the lone Riveters' goal and Amanda Kessel, who won the Patty Kazmaier Award while at Minnesota, and Packer's former Wisconsin teammate Courtney Burke each had an assist. Former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald came off the bench to make eight saves for the Riveters.
Boston (8-3) and Minnesota (8-4) are tied for first place with 16 points, two points ahead of Buffalo (7-4), but both Boston and Buffalo have a game in hand on the expansion Whitecaps, who only have four games left in the regular season. Connecticut (2-6-2) and the Riveters (3-9) have six points.
Kessel (1-13-14) is third in the league in scoring and leads the league in assists with 13, five more than Cameranesi, who stands fifth in the NWHL scoring derby with three goals, eight assists and 11 points. Marvin and Minnesota Duluth alum Katarina Mrazova are fourth in the league with six goals scored. Leveille is third among NWHL goalies with a 2.44 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
The NWHL announced its rosters for the all-star game in Nashville Feb. 10 and 11 WCHA alumnae are honorees. Here is a story on the all-star selections:
There are 56 WCHA alumnae on the opening rosters of the two North American professional hockey leagues -- with 34 former WCHA stars in the five-team NWHL.
Minnesota has 11 former WCHA players competing in the National Women's Hockey League, including six on the Minnesota Whitecaps, while St. Cloud State has seven alums in the league and Wisconsin six, five of whom play for the Metropolitan Riveters. There are four former UMD players in the NWHL while North Dakota and Ohio State have two players apiece and Minnesota State one.
The Whitecaps feature 17 former WCHA players while the Riveters have eight ex-WCHA players.
The Canadian Women's Hockey League has six teams in three countries – the U.S., Canada and China – and features 22 former WCHA players.
Wisconsin and Duluth each have eight former players in the CWHL. Minnesota and North Dakota have two players while Ohio State and Bemidji State have one player in the league.
In the CWHL last weekend, league-leading Calgary split with Toronto and Shenzhen continued its tour of North America by blanking Worcester 4-0 as ex-Duluth defenseman Jessia Wong chipped in with an assist, and then splitting two games with Montreal.
Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays, which is based in China, beat Les Canadiennes 4-3 in a shootout Saturday. Wong had two more assists and Noora Raty, the former Minnesota all-American goalie, made 25 saves. Former Wisconsin all-American Hilary Knight had an assist in the series opener and then scored a goal as Les Canadiennes scored a 4-0 victory Sunday. Raty had 33 saves in the Sunday game.
Calgary beat Toronto 4-1 Saturday former Duluth players Brigette Lacquette and Zoe Hickel had two and one assist, respectively. Toronto came back to gain a split with a 3-0 victory Sunday. Ex-Ohio State standout Natalie Spooner scored a goal and former Wisconsin forward Carolyne Prevost had an assist for the Fury.
Calgary (16-3-0-1) is atop the standings with 33 points, two more than Montreal (15-3-0-1). Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays (11-9-1). is in third place with 23 points, two more than Markham (9-7-3-0) Toronto (8-11-0) is in fifth place with 16 points while Worcester in winless and pointless in 20 games.
Spooner (11 goals, 10 assists) is in seventh place in the league's scoring derby with 21 points and former Wisconsin star Sarah Nurse (10 goals, 9 assists) is in tenth place with 19 points.
Another ex-Badger, Alex Rigsby, is fourth among CWHL goaltenders with a 1.56 goals-against average and her .928 save percentage is second best in the CWHL.
The CWHL will be Sunday, Jan. 20, in Toronto with 11 former Western Collegiate Hockey Associations stars competing in the game. They are Montreal's Knight, Markham's Jocelyne Larocque of Minnesota Duluth, Calgary's Brianna Decker and Rigsby of Wisconsin, Toronto's Spooner and Nurse, Worcester's Lauren Williams of Wisconsin, Shenzhen's Wong and Raty and Calgary's Zoe Hickel, a UMD alum, and Blayre Turnbull of Wisconsin. The stories on the all-stars, many of whom are decorated Olympic athletes are here:
There are more WCHA alums playing in these two pro leagues than any other season
Here are the WCHA alumni on NWHL and CWHL team rosters as of Jan. 5:
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): Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Halli Krzyzaniak, North Dakota; Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin.
Montréal (2): Assistant coach Caroline Ouellette (Minnesota Duluth); Catherine Daoust, Minnesota Duluth; Hilary Knight, Wisconsin.
Markham (3): Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth.
Shenzhen (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 (3): Jessica Convery, Minnesota Duluth; Demi Crossman, Minnesota Duluth; Lauren Williams, Wisconsin.