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.
Sydney Baldwin is used to having her name in headlines. She won three Minnesota state high school championships at Minnetonka High School and was named Ms. Hockey in Minnesota in 2014.
She went on to play at the University of Minnesota where she was named an all-American defenseman and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's player of the year in the 2017-18 season. Baldwin was also a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which goes to the top collegiate women's player. Last year Baldwin played pro hockey in Vienna, Austria.
It comes as no surprise as Baldwin plays at the next level, in the National Women's Hockey League, that she is making headlines again.
Playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps, the NWHL's defending champs, Baldwin had two goals and three assists as the visiting Whitecaps took a pair of victories at Connecticut over the weekend. Baldwin had a goal and two assists in Saturday's 7-2 triumph and came back Sunday to score a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory.
Baldwin is currently fifth in the NWHL is scoring with nine points after six games. Her four goals also put her in the top five in the NWHL.
Baldwin had plenty of help from former WCHA stars in the Whitecaps' series sweep. Her ex-Gopher teammate, Nicole Schammel, had two goals and an assist in the series opener. Former St. Cloud State athlete Haylea Schmid and ex-Gopher Meghan Lorence each had a goal and an assist and ex-SCSU forward Lisa Martinson and Minnesota alum Kelsey Cline chipped in with the assists to help support Amanda Leveille's 23-save effort in goal.
Leveille made 21 saves in the closer-checking series finale. Former Bemidji star Stephanie Anderson had the game-tying goal with 2:31 remaining and an assist, Winny Brodt-Brown added an assist and Lorence had the helper on Joanna Curtis' game-winning goal in the final 31 seconds to help the visiting Whitecaps move into second place in the NWHL.
In the NWHL's other series over the weekend, Boston stayed unbeaten with two victories over the Metropolitan Riveters. The Pride won 7-2 Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday. Former Wisconsin forward Madison Packer had a goal in the series finale for the Riveters.
The Pride are atop the standings with a 7-0-0-0 record and 14 points, seven points ahead of Minnesota which has a 3-2-0-1 record. Buffalo is 2-2-1-0 with six points, four more than the Metropolitan Riveters who are 0-4-1-0. Connecticut has a 0-4-0-1 record and one point.
The NWHL is idle for a national team break until Nov. 16 when Boston travels to Buffalo.
There are 19 WCHA alumnae playing in the five-team United States-based 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.
Last week Yahoo Sports reported that the National Hockey League was beginning talks to start up its own league with two teams in Canada. The report is here: https://sports.yahoo.com/report-nhl-starting-to-work-on-womens-league-015317056.html
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. (The list of NWHL players is below).
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 also have one Minnesota State alum. 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.