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.
After winning three national championships at the University of Minnesota, Meghan Lorence took some off from hockey for a few years.
But Lorence has come back in a big way and she let everyone know it Saturday, scoring two goals to lead the Minnesota Whitecaps to a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Beauts in a rematch of last season's Isobel Cup, the National Women's Hockey League's playoff championship.
Lorence, one of 19 former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players competing in the NWHL, had a first period goal for the Whitecaps who built a 4-0 lead. Lorence, who had 18 goals in both her junior and senior seasons with the Gophers, added a power play goal with 4:55 left that blunted a Beauts' rally.
Nicole Schammel, another of the seven ex-Gopher players on the Whitecaps roster, had two goals in the first 10:38 and chipped in an assist. Lauren Barnes, a former Minnesota State forward, also had a goal in the early outburst. Haley Schmid, a St. Cloud State alum, had two assists for the visiting Whitecaps and Stephanie Anderson, a Bemidji State grad, chipped in with a helper. Amanda Leveille, another former Minnesota standout, had 27 saves in goal for the Whitecaps
Minnesota tried the same formula in Sunday's series finale, jumping off to a 3-0 lead only to see the Beauts rally to take a 4-3 victory. Taylor Accursi had a trick for Buffalo who saw former Minnesota State defender Sara Bustad add an assist. Two former St. Cloud State players, Meaghan Pezon and Lisa Martinson, had assists for the Whitecaps while Leveille made 25 stops.
In the weekend's other NWHL game, the Boston Pride remained unbeaten with an 8-0 thumping of Connecticut.
The Pride is atop the standings with a 9-0-0-0 record and 18 points, eight points ahead of Buffalo which 4-4-1-0. Defending champion Minnesota has a 4-3-0-1 record and nine points, seven more than the Metropolitan Riveters who are 0-4-1-0. Connecticut has a 0-6-0-1 record and one point.
There are a number of the former WCHA players among the scoring leaders in the NWHL. Schammel is ninth in scoring with six goals, six assists and 12 points.Another ex-Minnesota player, Sydney Baldwin of the Whitecaps, is 15th with four goals, five assists and nine points while Lorence is 20th in the scoring derby with five goals, two assists and seven points.
Leveille, is second among NWHL goaltenders with four wins, a 3.13 goals-against average and a save percentage of .903.
NWHL plays resumes Saturday when Buffalo is at Connecticut and the Metropolitan Riveters visit Boston. Minnesota is idle until Dec. 14
The 19 WCHA alumnae playing in the five-team United States-based NWHL is about half as many as a year ago after an off-season when the women's professional leagues underwent a reshuffling.
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. The PWHPA announced another tour for January. The story is here: https://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2019/11/20/womens-hockey-union-announces-second-dream-gap-tour-stop-in-toronto.html
The Whitecaps feature 15 former WCHA players. 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 Nov. 15:
Buffalo: Sara Bustad, Minnesota State
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin. Laura Brennan (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.