BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – April 12, 2019 – The IIHF Women's World Championship has reached the medal round and Saturday's semifinals in Espoo, Finland, will have a decided Western Collegiate Hockey Association flavor as 21 current and former league student-athletes are playing major roles on three of the remaining four squads.
The United States enters the semifinals as the No. 1 team in the tournament and features 13 players with WCHA ties, including five who rank among the tournament's top scorers. Former Wisconsin star Hilary Knight shares the team and tournament goal scoring lead with five. Former Minnesota Golden Gophers Dani Cameranesi and Amanda Kessel have both contributed three goals and two assists to the U.S. attack while Wisconsin's Annie Pankowski has equaled the Gopher duo in points with five on two goals and three helpers. Former Badger star Brianna Decker has also contributed two goals and a pair of assists to the American attack.
Between the pipes Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney is 2-0 for the United States and has yet to allow a goal in the tournament. Former Wisconsin netminder Alex Rigsby is 3-0 and sports a 1.33 GAA with one shutout in her starts for Team USA.
The United States will meet Russia in Saturday's second semifinal at noon CT at Metro Areena in Espoo. The U.S. has reached the semifinals after posting wins over Finland (6-2), Canada (3-2), Switzerland (8-0) and Russia (10-0) in pool play and downing Japan 4-0 in Thursday's quarterfinals. The contest will air live on NHL Network.
Team Canada's roster boasts six WCHA players, led by former Ohio State Buckeye Natalie Spooner, who shares the tournament scoring lead with eight points on five goals and three assists. Spooner is joined by three other Canadian WCHA alumni among tournament scoring leaders – Wisconsin's Sarah Nurse (2g-4a-6pts) and Blayre Turnbull (4-0-4) and Minnesota Duluth's Brigette Lacquette (5-0-5).
Host Finland has been backstopped by former Minnesota All-American Noora Raty. The Gopher goaltender has posted two of Finland's three wins in the tournament, including a 4-0 shutout of Russia in pool play. Raty enters Saturday's semifinal with a 2.79 GAA and 90.83 save percentage
Canada will face Finland in Saturday's first semifinal at 8 a.m. CT. That game will also take place at Metro Areena in Espoo and will air on NHL Network.
Saturday's winners will advance to the championship game on Sunday, April 14 at noon CT.
In all, 27 WCHA players representing six of the league's seven teams have appeared at this year's World Championships.
Current and Former WCHA Players at the IIHF World Championships
Minnesota (7): United States- Kelly Pannek, Lee Stecklein, Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel; Finland- Noora Raty
Minnesota Duluth (4): United States- Sydney Brodt, Maddie Rooney; Canada- Jocelyne Larocque, Brigette Lacquette
Minnesota State (2): Germany- Lena Dusterhoft, Anna Fiegert
Ohio State (3): Canada- Natalie Spooner; Finland- Minttu Tuominen; Switzerland- Andrea Braendli
St. Cloud State (4): United States- Emma Polusny; Switzerland- Janine Alder, Germany- Laura Kluge, Czech Republic- Klara Hymlarova*
Wisconsin (7): United States- Annie Pankowski, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, Alex Rigsby; Canada- Emily Clark, Sarah Nurse, Blayre Turnbull
Canada (6)- Minnesota Duluth- Jocelyne Larocque, Brigette Lacquette; Ohio State- Natalie Spooner; Wisconsin- Emily Clark, Sarah Nurse, Blayre Turnbull
Czech Republic (1)- St. Cloud State- Klara Hymlarova*
Finland (2)- Minnesota- Noora Raty; Ohio State- Minttu Tuominen
Germany (3): Minnesota State- Lena Dusterhoft, Anna Fiegert; St. Cloud State- Laura Kluge
Switzerland (2)- Ohio State- Andrea Braendli; St. Cloud State- Janine Alder
United States (13)-Minnesota- Kelly Pannek, Lee Stecklein, Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel; Minnesota Duluth- Sydney Brodt, Maddie Rooney; St. Cloud State- Emma Polusny; Wisconsin- Annie Pankowski, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, Alex Rigsby
*- Incoming 2019-20 freshman