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.
When playing at the University of Minnesota, Nicole Schammel and Sydney Baldwin got used to playing in front of big crowds and in big games as they helped the Gophers win a national championship.
It was not surprising, then, that while playing in front of a full house at Tria Rink in St. Paul, Minn. Sunday each scored a goal to lead the Minnesota Whitecaps to a 5-2 victory over the Metropolitan Riveters and a split in their National Women's Hockey League series over the weekend.
Former Bemidji State star Stephanie Anderson also scored a goal and Nina Rodgers, another former Gopher, Lauren Barnes, a Minnesota State alum, and Lisa Martinson, a former St. Cloud State player, chipped in with assists for the Whitecaps. The win over the Riveters was the first in three tries this season for Minnesota. Amanda Leveille, another Minnesota alum, made 28 saves in goal in the victory. Ex-Wisconsin star Madison Packer had a goal for the Riveters.
On Saturday, Packer contributed an assist as the Riveters took a 3-2 victory in a shootout. Baldwin, Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal and Winny Brodt Brown, all former Gophers, had assists for the Whitecaps, the NWHL's defending champions. Leveille had 23 saves, but gave up the only goal in the three-round shootout.
Boston tops the NWHL standings with an 11-0-0-0 record and 22 points, 10 points ahead of Buffalo which is 5-4-1-0, and Minnesota which has a 5-3-0-2 record. The Metropolitan Riveters are in fourth place with a 2-7-2-0 record and eight points while Connecticut has a 0-9-0-1 record and one point.
NWHL plays resumes Saturday and Sunday with a pair of two-game series: Boston is at Buffalo and Minnesota visits Connecticut.
Packer and Schammel are eighth in the league in scoring with 13 points. Schammel, the league's leading rookie scorer, has seven goals and six assists while Packer has six goals and seven assists. Baldwin is among the top 20 scorers with five goals, six assists and 11 points.
Leveille is second among NWHL goaltenders with five wins and is third with a 2.88 goals-against average and a save percentage of .907.
There are 19 Western Collegiate Hockey Association alumnae playing in the five-team United States-based NWHL, 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. The PWHPA has announced another set of games for January.
Many of the players in the PWHPA are participating in the Rivalry Series. Game two of the series, which features 21 former and current WCHA players, will be played Tuesday, Dec. 17 in Moncton, N.B. The U.S beat Canada 4-1 in the opening game of the series Saturday night in Hartford, Conn. Here is a list of the league participants: http://www.wcha.com/women/articles/2019/12/twenty-one-current-and-former-wcha-stars-named-to-united-states-and-canadian-rosters-for-womens-rivalry-series.php
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. 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 Dec. 15:
Buffalo: Sara Bustad, Minnesota State
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin. Laura Brennan, Minnesota State (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.