Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.
Lee Stecklein had won a national championship with Minnesota. Last year she won a gold medal with the United States Olympic team at the Winter Olympics.
And Sunday she added to her trophy case by scoring the game-winning goal 49 seconds into overtime to give the Minnesota Whitecaps a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Beauts to win the Isobel Cup, the trophy which goes to the playoff champions of the National Women's Hockey League.
Amy Menke, a North Dakota alum, also scored for the Whitecaps, an expansion team who packed Tria Rink in St. Paul all season and won the regular season NWHL titie as well as the Isobel Cup. There are 17 former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players who play for the Whitecaps, including goalie Amanda Leveille, the former Minnesota goalie who made 22 saves in the tense title game
Here is the game story on the Isobel Cup game:
The Whitecaps advanced to the title game by eliminating the defending champions, Metropolitan Riveters, Friday in St. Paul, Minn. Former Minnesota All-American Hannah Brandt had two goals, ex-Minnesota Duluth forward Katie McGovern and former Minnesota State forward Lauren Barnes chipped in goals and Leveille made 35 saves in the semifinal victory.
Former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald had 35 saves and ex-Wisconsin defenseman Courtney Burke scored a goal for the Riveters.
There are two former WCHA and Olympic gold medalists, both Minnesota alums – Amanda Kessel of the Riveters and Gigi Marvin of Boston – among the five finalists for the NWHL's most valuable player awards, which will be announced this week. Stecklein is among the three finalists for defender of the year.
The Canadian Women's Hockey League will determine its champion on Sunday. Regular season champion Calgary will face Montreal at noon in Toronto to determine the Clarkson Cup champion.
There are nine former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players – six on Calgary and three on Les Canadiennes plus associate head coach Caroline Ouelllette -- competing for the Clarkson Cup.
The CWHL will hand out its awards Friday. Former Wisconsin forward Sarah Nurse of Toronto is one of three players nominated for rookie of the year. Ex-Badger goalie Alex Rigsby of Calgary and former Minnesota goalie Noora Raty of Shenzen Vanke Rays are nominated for goalie of the year.
ESPN gave an update on the possibility of a merger between the two leagues in a story here:
The Canadian Women's Hockey League has six teams in three countries – the U.S., Canada and China – and features 23 former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players.
Duluth each has nine former players in the CWHL and Wisconsin has eight alums in the league. Minnesota and North Dakota have two players while Ohio State and Bemidji State have one player in the league.
There are 58 WCHA alumnae on the rosters of the two North American professional hockey leagues -- with 35 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 Riveters. There are five former UMD players in the NWHL while North Dakota and Ohio State have two players apiece and Minnesota State one.
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 March 1:
Buffalo: Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Julianna Iafallo, Ohio State; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota.
Connecticut: Jezssica Koiziumi, Minnesota Duluth; 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: Associate head coach Caroline Ouellette (Minnesota Duluth); Emmanuelle Blais, 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.
Worcester: Jessica Convery, Minnesota Duluth; Dani Crossman, Minnesota Duluth; Lauren Williams, Wisconsin.