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.
Women's hockey got a chance to show off its best players last week.
The highlight came Saturday night when 13,320 fans – the largest crowd to ever watch the U.S. national team play – showed up in Anaheim, Calif., and saw former Minnesota defenseman Megan Bozek score an overtime goal to help the U.S. beat Canada 4-3 in the final game of the five-game Rivalry Series between the long-time foes.
The U.S. won four games in the series, but the consensus winner was the women's game which was showcased on the East Coast and in Canada in December and on the West Coast and British Columbia last week.
In the final game of the series, the teams were tied 2-2 after the first period as pair of former Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Americans – Hilary Knight (Wisconsin) and Dani Cameranesi (Minnesota) – scored for the U.S. Bozek assisted on the first goal and Brianna Decker, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Wisconsin, assisted on the second goal.
The score stayed tied until the third period when Canada took a 3-2 lead, but the Americans tied it with 11 minutes left in regulation on a goal by Monique Lamoureux-Morando, a former North Dakota star, with an assist from Annie Pankowski, who led Wisconsin to the national title last season.
Bozek's power play goal, 42 seconds into overtime, sent the crowd home happy. Alex Rigsby Cavallini, another former Badger, made 20 saves in goal for the U.S.
Twenty former WCHA stars played in the final three games of the Rivalry Series, which received high praise by this Los Angeles Times columnist in an account of the game at the Honda Center, the home of the Anaheim Ducks.
Here is a story on the WCHA players who played in the series:
Twenty-one current and former WCHA players also suited up for the opening two games of the Rivalry Series in December.
Every member of the Canadian and U.S. teams who skated in Anaheim 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.
The day after the Rivalry series ended, the National Women's Hockey League showed off its best players at Boston's Warrior Arena. Five of the all-stars were former WCHA players, including Madison Packer, the former Wisconsin star who was one of the captains.
The fact that women's hockey at the post-college hockey level is still divided is discussed here by the Boston Globe:
Packer, the second-leading scorer in NWHL history and a star with the Metropolitan Riveters, selected Minnesota Whitecaps teammates Sydney Baldwin, a former all-American defenseman at Minnesota, and ex-Gopher goalie Amanda Leveille 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.
Playing before a sellout crowd of around 1,000 fans Sunday, Team Dempsey beat Team Packer 3-1. Packer had an assist for her team's first period goal while Schammel had a goal for the victors.
At the all-star break, Packer is in third place in scoring in the NWHL. The power forward has 12 goals 17 assists (third best in the league), and 29 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 18th among scorers with eight goals, ten assists and 18 points. Former St. Cloud State standout Meghan Pezon is tied for 20th with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists). Another ex-Gopher, Minnesota Megan Lorence, has two shorthanded goals which are tied for the most in the NWHL and Packer's five power play goals is also tied for the most. The list of league scoring leaders is here:
Leveille, the NWHL player of the month for January, is second in the league in victories with 12 and in save percentage at .932. Her 2.13 goals against average ranks third among league goalies
Boston tops the NWHL standings with a 20-1-0-0 record and 40 points, 10 points ahead of Minnesota which has a 13-5-2 record and has clinched the No. 2 seed for the playoffs The Riveters have a 8-9-2 record and 18 points, five more than Buffalo which has a 6-11-1 mark and 13 points. Connecticut has a 2-15-2 record and six points.
After the all-star break, NWHL play continues Feb. 15-16 when Connecticut visits Boston on Saturday and the Metropolitan Riveters host Buffalo in a Saturday-Sunday series.
Here is a story on the Pride, the dominant league leader and how the team was formed by Coach Paul Marra:
There are 20 WCHA alums playing in the five-team, 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.
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.
Here are the WCHA alums on NWHL rosters as of Feb. 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