Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.
Julianna Iafallo is the youngest player on the hottest team in the National Women's Hockey League.
But that doesn't mean the rookie forward isn't a key contributor to the Buffalo Beauts, who won their fifth straight game with a 3-2 victory over the Metropolitan Riveters in a rematch of last year's Isobel Cup playoff championship.
Iafallo, who played 146 games at Ohio State and grew up in Eden, N.Y. right outside of Buffalo, had a goal and an assist as the Beauts stayed in the NWHL regular season title chase. Former Minnesota player Jordan Burns had an assist for the Beauts who directed 28 shots at Riveters goalie Katie Fitzgerald, who played at St. Cloud State.
In the only other NWHL game last week, Boston remained in a tie with Buffalo for second place with a 3-1 victory over Connecticut.
The standings show Minnesota (10-4) in the league lead with 20 points, two points better than Boston (9-4) and Buffalo (9-4). Connecticut (2-9-2) and the Riveters (3-10) have six points. The Whitecaps, an expansion team, have two regular season games remaining while Boston and Buffalo have three games left.
The NWHL will hold its all-star game Sunday in Nashville. 11 Western Collegiate Hockey Association alums are honorees. Here is a story on the all-star selections:
Buffalo's Dani Cameranesi, the ex-Minnesota All-American who was the NWHL player of the week last week, has four goals, 10 assists and 14 points and is tied with former Patty Kaz winner Amanda Kessel (1-13-14) of the Riveters for fourth in the league in scoring. Kessel, the ex-Gopher, leads the league in assists with 13.
Boston's Gigi Marvin, another ex-Gopher, and Minnesota Duluth alum Katarina Mrazova of Connecticut are fifth in the league with six goals scored. Minnesota's Amanda Leveille is third among NWHL goalies with a 2.44 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
There are 56 WCHA alumnae on the 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.
In the Canadian Women's Hockey League last weekend, league-leading Calgary and second place Montreal split a key series.
Former Wisconsin All-American and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Brianna Decker had a goal and two assists to lead Calgary to a 5-4 victory Saturday. Ex-Badger Blayre Turnbull and Halli Krzyzaniak, the former North Dakota star, had a goal and an assist for the Inferno who got 29 saves from Alex Rigsby. Hilary Knight had a goal for Les Canadiennes in the series opener. Rigsby made 33 stops in the series finale, but Les Canadiennes got a 3-0 victory that kept them in the regular season title chase.
In the other CWHL series last weekend, Markham swept Worcester 7-1 and 9-3. Jocelyne Larocque, a Minnesota Duluth alum, had two assists in the Thunder's 2-1 series opener and and had two goals in the series finale. Jenna McParland, another former Bulldog, had a goal and an assist in the series opener. Dani Crossman, who also played at UMD, had a goal in Saturday's game for Worcester while ex-Badger Lauren Williams had an assist in Sunday's loss.
In a three-game series last week in China, Shenzen took two of three games from Toronto. Jessica Wong had an assist to back the 34 saves by former Minnesota All-American Noora Raty and the Rays took the series opener 3-1. Sarah Nurse, who was a star forward at Wisconsin, had Toronto's lone goal. Nurse scored the only goal of the game Friday as the Fury took a 1-0 victory despite 36 saves by Raty. On Saturday, Stephanie Anderson, who played at Bemidji State, had a goal and an assist and the Rays took the rubber match in the series, 5-2. Raty had 25 saves in that game, but Natalie Spooner, the former Ohio State standout, had a goal and an assist for Toronto.
Calgary (18-4-0-1) remains in first place with 37 points, two more than Montreal (17-5-0-1). Markham (12-8-3-0) and Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays (13-11-1) are tied for third place with 27 points. Toronto (9-13-0) is in fifth place with 18 points while Worcester in winless and pointless in 22 games.
Spooner (12 goals, 10 assists) is in ninth place in the league's scoring derby with 22 points and Decker (10-11) and Nurse (10 goals, 9 assists), are in 14th place with 21 points
Rigsby, is second among CWHL goaltenders with a 2.05 goals-against average and her .925 save percentage is also second best in the CWHL.
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.
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. 15:
Buffalo: Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Julianna Iafallo, Ohio State; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota;
Connecticut: Michelle Lowenheilm, Minnesota Duluth; Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; Katerina Mrazova, Minnesota Duluth; Nina Rodgers, Minnesota.
Metropolitan: Amanda Kessel, Minnesota; Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Kelly Nash, Wisconsin, Erika Lawler, Wisconsin; Jenny Ryan, Wisconsin; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State; Lexi Slattery, St. Cloud State.
Boston: Gigi Marvin, Minnesota.
Minnesota: Kate Schipper, Minnesota; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota; Julie Friend, St. Cloud State; Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal, Minnesota; Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Haylea Schmid, St. Cloud State; Lisa Martinson, St. Cloud State; Meaghan Pezon, St. Cloud State; Kalli Funk, St. Cloud State; Lauren Barnes, Minnesota State; Tanja Eischenschmid, North Dakota; Amy Menke, North Dakota; Emma Stauber, Minnesota Duluth; Katie McGovern, Minnesota Duluth; Sadie Lundquist, Bemidji State; Winny Brodt Brown, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota
Calgary: Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Halli Kryzyzaniak, North Dakota; Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin.
Shenzen KRS (China) Vanke Red Star: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth; Noora Raty, Minnesota
Markham: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth
Montreal: Assistant coach Caroline Ouellette (Minnesota Duluth); Catherine Daost, Minnesota Duluth; Hilary Knight, Wisconsin.
Toronto: Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin; Melissa Channell, Wisconsin; Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin; Jordan Hampton, North Dakota.