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.
A year ago, Kelly Nash was behind the bench as an assistant coach for Princeton as the Tigers qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Right after Christmas, Nash decided she wasn't done as a player and returned to the ice as a member of the Metropolitan Riveters, the team which she helped win the Isobel Cup in 2018.
Fast forward to last weekend and Nash looked right at home on the ice. Nash, who won a national championship at Wisconsin, had a goal and two assists and helped her Riveters to a win and tie against the Buffalo Beauts as the National Women's Hockey League returned to action after the all-star break.
In nine games with the Riveters, Nash has six points and helped the team move into third place in the NWHL as the playoffs loom next month.
Nash played sparingly for the Riveters last year while coaching at Princeton, where she was an assistant coach from 2017-19. She also was an assistant at Vermont from 2013-17. In 2009 and 2011, Nash won NCAA championships as a player with Wisconsin. In 153 collegiate games, Nash, who also played professionally in Europe, totaled 69 points on 22 goals and 47 assists
Nash had a goal and two assists Saturday as the Riveters gained a point, but Buffalo took the extra point in a 6-5 victory, which was determined by a shootout. Madison Packer, Nash's former Wisconsin teammate, had an assist in the series opener. She followed that up with a pair of assists Sunday to lead the Riveters to a 4-3 victory.
Packer, the second leading scorer in NWHL history, is in third place in scoring in the NWHL this season with 12 goals, 20 assists (fourth best in the league) and 32 points. Former Minnesota standout Nicole Schammel, a former all-WCHA player who plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps, is 11th in league scoring with 24 points (10g-14a) while another ex-Gopher, Sydney Baldwin of the Whitecaps, 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, 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: https://www.nwhl.zone/stats#/100/leaders/table?division_id=8088&player_type=players
Former Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille of the Whitecaps 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
In the other NWHL game last weekend, Boston scored three third period goals and took a 4-1 victory over visiting Connecticut before the third straight sellout crowd at Warrior Arena.
With two weeks left in the regular season, Boston has clinched the top seed for the Isobel Cup playoffs and leads the NWHL standings with a 21-1-0-0 record and 42 points, 12 points ahead of the defending champions, the Minnesota Whitecaps, which has a 13-5-2 record and has clinched the No. 2 seed for the playoffs The Riveters are 9-9-3 with 21 points, six more than Buffalo which has a 7-12-1 mark and 15 points. Connecticut has a 2-17-2 record and six points.
NWHL play continues Feb. 22 when Connecticut visits Boston and Minnesota hosts Buffalo in the opener of a two-game series. The Metropolitan Riveters host Boston Sunday series.
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. Every member of the Canadian and U.S. teams who played in the Rivalry Series earlier this month 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 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. 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.