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.
Eleven former Western Collegiate Hockey Association standouts have been invited to play in the first women's event ever at the National Hockey League All Star Weekend Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis, Mo.
The NHL has created the Elite Women's 3-on-3 presented by adidas, in which the American All-Stars and Canadian All-Stars will play head-to-head in a 20-minute 3-on-3 tournament on Friday in St. Louis.
The 10-member United States roster consists of nine skaters and one goalie and includes seven WCHA alums - former Wisconsin all-Americans Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Annie Pankowski and goalie Alex Rigsby Cavallini, North Dakota alum Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson and ex-Minnesota stars Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein.
The Canadian roster includes former Badgers Sarah Nurse, Blayre Turnbull and goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens and former Ohio State star Natalie Spooner.
Seven of the 20 stars selected played at Wisconsin. Starting today, Monday, Jan. 20, Decker, Knight and Nurse also are among eight players who'll be in a Twitter fan poll starting Monday to decide one American and one Canadian to take part in the Shooting Stars competition during the NHL skills challenge. In that exercise, players will shoot at targets from a platform elevated 30 feet above the ice and behind the goal.
NBCSN will televise the women's event. The tournament will be presented as one of six events at the All-Star skills, alongside the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater, the Bud Light NHL Save Streak, Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting, the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot, and another new event, the Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars.
The complete story is here: https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-all-star-weekend-adds-elite-womens-3-on-3-game/c-313979224
The 11 WCHA alums participating in the NHL event are among the 20 former players who will play for their countries in the Rivalry Series next month. There are 20 former WCHA players who have been named to the U.S. and Canada rosters for the final three games of the five-game series.
Every member of the Canadian and U.S. teams are members of the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour that was organized by the women's players' union last summer The PWHPA have scheduled another set of games for February in Philadelphia Feb. 29-March 1.
Meanwhile, the National Women's Hockey league continues its fifth season and saw Minnesota sweep visiting Connecticut last weekend to strengthen its hold on second place in the five-team league. The Whitecaps are the defending Isobel Cup champs and have won eight of their last nine games after sweeping the Whale 6-1 Saturday and 7-0 Sunday at Tria Rink in St. Paul.
Former Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille had 31 saves Saturday while Meaghan Pezon, a St. Cloud state alum, had a goal and an assist, and Nicole Schammel, another former Gopher, had a pair of assists. Kelsey Line, an ex-Gopher, and Lisa Barnes, a former Minnesota State player, chipped in with assists on Hockey Day Minnesota.
Leveille became the second goalie in NWHL history to earn three shutouts in a season with 34 stops in the series finale. It was her 11th victory and the third-straight season she reached that mark. No other NWHL goalie has achieved three consecutive 11-win seasons. Her win total and .935 save percentage are each second best among NWHL goalies and her 2.03 goals against average ranks third.
Barnes, Schammel, Pezon and Haylea Schmid, another former St. Cloud State player, each had a goal and an assist in the series finale while former Minnesota all-American Sydney Baldwin and Meghan Lorence, also a former Gopher player, each had two assists.
In other NWHL action, Boston won a franchise-record 19th straight game by beating the Metropolitan Riveters 5-3 Monday afternoon. Former Wisconsin star Madison Packer had an assist for the Riveters in the holiday matinee.
Boston tops the NWHL standings with a 19-0-0-0 record and 38 points, 10 points ahead of Minnesota which has a 12-4-2 record. The Metropolitan Riveters have a 7-9-1 record and 15 points, two more than Buffalo which has a 6-11-1 mark and 13 points. Connecticut has a 1-15-2 record and four points.
The two top teams collide next weekend when Boston goes to Minnesota Jan. 25-26 in one of two league series. Connecticut visits the Riveters in the other two-game set.
Packer is in third place in scoring in the NWHL. The power forward has 11 goals 15 assists (fourth best in the league), and 26 points. Schammel, a former all-WCHA player, is seventh in league scoring with 23 points (ten goals and 13 assists) while Baldwin is tied for 15th among scorers with eight goals, ten assists and 18 points. Pezon is 20th with 15 points (five goals, 15 points). The list of league scoring leaders is here: https://www.nwhl.zone/stats#/100/leaders/table?division_id=8088&player_type=players
There are 20 WCHA alums playing in the U.S.-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 last 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. 15:
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