EDINA, Minn. – June 18, 2016 – Fans looking for a glimpse of professional hockey's future can come to women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) rinks this season, as more than half – 11 of 20 – selections in the 2016 National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) Draft are rising seniors representing four WCHA schools.
Selection order for the 2016 NWHL Draft was determined by season record in the league's inaugural 2015-16 campaign, resulting in the following order: New York Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and the champion Boston Pride. All players who have completed their junior seasons at a four-year accredited college were eligible for selection in the draft; all those selected during today's draft will complete their senior seasons at the collegiate level before entering the professional ranks.
Each of the draft's five rounds featured at least one WCHA player chosen, while the first and third rounds saw three of the four picks coming from the nation's premier women's college hockey conference.
Below is a full list of WCHA players chosen:
- Lee Stecklein, D, University of Minnesota (Buffalo Beauts, 1st Round – 2nd pick overall)
- Dani Cameranesi, F, University of Minnesota (Connecticut Whale, 1st Round – 3rd pick overall)
- Ann-Renée Desbiens, G, University of Wisconsin (Boston Pride, 1st Round – 4th pick overall)
- Sarah Nurse, F, University of Wisconsin (Boston Pride, 2nd Round – 8th pick overall)
- Jenny Ryan, D, University of Wisconsin (New York Riveters, 3rd Round – 9th pick overall)
- Mellissa Channell, D, University of Wisconsin (Connecticut Whale, 3rd Round – 11th pick overall)
- Ashleigh Brykaliuk, F University of Minnesota Duluth (Boston Pride, 3rd Round – 12th pick overall)
- Sydney McKibbon, F, University of Wisconsin (New York Riveters, 4th Round – 13th pick overall)
- Halli Krzyzaniak, D, University of North Dakota (Boston Pride, 4th Round – 16th pick overall)
- Amy Menke, F, University of North Dakota (New York Riveters, 5th Round – 17th pick overall)
- Lara Stalder, F, University of Minnesota Duluth (Boston Pride, 5th Round – 20th pick overall)
Wisconsin, the 2015-16 WCHA regular season and playoff champion, led all NCAA schools with five players selected. Defending national champion Minnesota, along with Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota, each had two picks apiece. The Bulldogs' Lara Stalder became the first Swiss player chosen in the two-year history of the NWHL Draft. The Badgers' Ann-Renée Desbiens – the fourth overall pick – was one of just two goaltenders selected.
"To have eleven players selected in the NWHL Draft speaks to the world-class talent that WCHA member institutions recruit and develop," said WCHA President and Interim Women's Commissioner Bill Robertson. "We are tremendously proud of these exceptional student-athletes and are thrilled they will have an opportunity to continue playing the sport they love at a professional level after their collegiate careers. We cannot wait to watch these women compete during the 2016-17 WCHA season and beyond."
The second NWHL season, which will coincide with the draftees' senior collegiate campaigns, will take place from October to March, including preseason, an All-Star weekend and the Isobel Cup playoffs.