Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing professional hockey. The website will also offer periodic stories on former WCHA players.
In her short time in Buffalo, N.Y., Sara Bustad is discovering that hockey is almost as important in her new home as a snow shovel.
The Buffalo Sabres are off to a 7-1-1 start in the National Hockey League series and the Buffalo Beauts continue to experience success in the National Women's Hockey League.
Bustad, a former defenseman at Minnesota State, had three assists over the weekend as the Beauts won a pair of games and continued their consistent play in the NWHL.
The Beauts won the Isobel Cup as the champs of the NWHL in 2017 and have been in the title game each of the league's four previous seasons. By winning two games at their new home in suburban Amherst, the Beauts are in second place in the five-team NWHL.
Bustad had two assists Sunday as Buffalo took a 6-4 lead over Connecticut. She had one helper in the home opener Saturday and Buffalo took a 5-4 overtime victory. Jordan Brickner, a former Wisconsin player, had a goal in Sunday's loss for the Whale. Brickner had three assists Saturday when then the Whale built a 3-0 lead only to see the Beauts rally.
In the NWHL's other series over the weekend, Boston stayed unbeaten with two victories over the visiting Minnesota Whitecaps. Boston got 47 saves from Levisa Selander Saturday and took a 3-1 victory from the defending champions. Amanda Leveille, the former University of Minnesota goalie, made 39 saves and ex-Gopher Nicole Schammel had an assist for the Whitecaps.
The Pride completed the sweep Sunday with a 5-2 victory despite Whitecaps goals from rookie Sydney Baldwin, an ex-Gopher defenseman and Stephanie Anderson, a Bemidji State alum. Leveille had 42 saves Saturday and Schammel and Andrea Schmid, a former St. Cloud State player, each had an assist in the Whitecaps' loss.
The Pride are atop the standings with a 5-0-0-0 record and 10 points, four points ahead of Buffalo which is 2-2-1-0. Minnesota has a 1-2-0-1 record and three points, one better than the Metropolitan Riveters who are 0-2-1-0. Connecticut has a 0-2-0-1 record and one point.
This upcoming schedule has Minnesota at Connecticut in a two-game series Oct. 26-27 and the Riveters at Boston.
Buffalo is idle, but there will be women's hockey at the Harbor Center, the team's former home in downtown Buffalo, as Minnesota Duluth of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association competes in the Icebreaker Tournament. The Bulldogs face Mercyhurst Friday at 4:30 p.m. while Colgate faces U Conn in the other semifinal of the college hockey tournament. The winners play for the Icebreaker title on Saturday
There are 19 WCHA alumnae playing in the five-team NWHL. That number is about half as many as a year ago after an off-season when the women's professional leagues underwent a re-shuffling.
Over the summer the landscape of professional women's hockey changed with the Canadian Women's Hockey League folding. The NWHL marches on, however, despite many of the bigger names in the sport playing in the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour that was organized by the women's players' union and came to Chicago last weekend.
The Whitecaps feature 15 former WCHA players, including eight who played at the University of Minnesota. There are four former St. Cloud State players and one each from Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State and Bemidji State on the Whitecaps roster.
Wisconsin has two former players in the NWHL – one each in Connecticut and with the Riveters. Buffalo's roster includes one former Minnesota State player and the Metropolitan Riveters signed former Maverick defenseman Anna Keys to a contract Sunday. Former Minnesota State goalie Laura Brennan is an assistant coach with the Whale.
Here are the WCHA alums on NWHL rosters as of Oct. 15:
Buffalo: Sara Bustad, Minnesota State
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin. Laura Brennan, Minnesota State, is an assistant coach.
Metropolitan: Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Anna Keys, Minnesota State.
Minnesota: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Sydney Baldwin, Minnesota; Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal, 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; Emma Stauber, Minnesota Duluth; Winny Brodt Brown, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota; Nicole Schammel, Minnesota; Nina Rodgers, Minnesota, Meghan Lorence, Minnesota and Kelsey Cline, Minnesota.