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.
As the calendar turned to 2020 on New Year's Day, it was trendy to look back at the last decade. The International Ice Hockey Federation was no exception. Its website went to the way-back machine to name its' all-decade team from the 2010's and three of the six-member team from past women's world championships and Olympics were former stars from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
North Dakota alum Monique Lamoureux Morando and ex-Wisconsin standouts Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight were selected from a galaxy of stars. The story is here:
Instead of looking back last week, the National Women's Hockey League looked ahead and filled out its rosters for the NWHL All Star Game Feb. 9 in Boston. Five of the all-stars are former WCHA players, including Madison Packer, a standout at Wisconsin who will be one of the captains.
Packer, the second leading scorer all-time in NWHL history and a star with the Metropolitan Riveters, selected Minnesota Whitecaps teammates Sydney Baldwin, a former all-American defenseman at Minnesota, and Amanda Leveille, a former standout goalie at Minnesota, for her 16-member Team Packer.
Another ex-Gopher Nicole Schammel, a Whitecaps forward, and Jordan Brickner of the Connecticut Whale who played at Wisconsin, were selected to play for Team Dempsey by Jillian Dempsey, the Boston Pride forward who is the league's all-time leading scorer. A complete story on the all-star selections from The Hockey News is here:
Schammel and Baldwin had a big weekend as the Whitecaps swept Buffalo 8-2 and 7-1 at Tria Arena in St. Paul, Minn. Schammel and Meaghan Pezon, a St. Cloud state alum, each scored five points in the series with two goals and three assists.
Schammel had a goal and two assists, all which came in a five-goal third period, in the series opener. Baldwin, Pezon and another Huskie alum, Lisa Martinson chipped in with goals while Lisa Barnes, a former Minnesota State player, and Meghan Lorence, a former Minnesota player, each had two assists. Winny Brodt Brown, another former Gopher, Emma Stauber, a Minnesota Duluth alum, and former Bemidji State star Stephanie Anderson all added helpers.
In the series finale, Pezon and Baldwin each had a goal and two assists and Schammel added a goal and an assist and Lorence scored a goal to help complete the sweep. Barnes, Anderson and Brodt Brown each had assists. Leveille, who had 27 saves Saturday, made 28 stops Sunday.
Connecticut won its first game of the season, edging the Riveters 4-3 in overtime Saturday. Packer and ex-Wisconsin teammate Kelly Nash had assists for the Riveters.
But the Whale's success was short-lived as Boston stayed unbeaten with a 4-2 victory over Connecticut at Warrior Arena in Boston. The Pride have outscored opponents 96-33 and are the first NWHL team to ever win its first 18 games.
Boston tops the NWHL standings with a 18-0-0-0 record and 36 points, 14 points ahead of Minnesota which has an 10-4-2 record. The Metropolitan Riveters have a 7-8-1 record and 15 points, two more than Buffalo which has a 6-10-1 mark and 13 points. Connecticut has a 1-13-2 record and four points.
Packer is in third place in scoring in the NWHL. The power forward has 11 goals 14 assists (fourth best in the league), and 25 points. Schammel, a former all-WCHA player, is tied for tenth in league scoring with 19 points (nine goals and ten assists) while Baldwin is 16th among scorers with eight goals, eight assists and 16 points.
Leveille is second among NWHL goaltenders with ten wins and third with a 2.22 goals-against average and a save percentage of .928.
There are 20 WCHA alums 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 played games in Toronto last weekend and have scheduled another set of games for February in Philadelphia Feb. 29-March 1.
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 three former players in the NWHL – one in Connecticut and two with the Riveters. Buffalo's roster includes one former Minnesota State player and the Riveters also have one Minnesota State alum. Former Minnesota State goalie Laura Brennan is an assistant coach with the Whale.
NWHL play continues next Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19, when defending champion Minnesota hosts Connecticut in a two-game series.
Here are the WCHA alums on NWHL rosters as of Jan. 1:
Buffalo: Sara Bustad, Minnesota State
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin. Laura Brennan, Minnesota State (assistant coach).
Metropolitan: Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Anna Keys, Minnesota State; Kelly Nash, Wisconsin
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.