Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey. The website will also offer periodic stories on former WCHA players.
Former Ohio State standout Natalie Spooner made history in 2014 when she became the first player to win an Olympic gold medal and the Clarkson Cup, the championship of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), in the same year. She is starting off the 2016-17 season with a flourish as well.
Spooner had three goals and three assists and led her Toronto Furies to two CWHL-opening week victories. Spooner, a member of the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 who had 17 goals and 30 points last season with the Furies, is the league's leading scorer with six points after the first week of play. The Furies, Calgary and Montreal all posted two victories last week and former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players played a big role.
Michela Cava, a Minnesota Duluth alum, had a goal and two assists for Toronto and ex-Wisconsin forward Carolyn Prevost had a pair of goals. Haley Irwin, a former UMD forward who also won an Olympic gold medal with Canada, had a goal and an assist in Calgary's two victories and Carolyn Ouelette, the former UMD all-American and all-time leading scorer in the CWHL, added to her career totals with a goal and an assist for Montreal. Kelly Terry, a former Minnesota standout, had a goal and an assist for Toronto and is among the league's scoring leaders.
The early-season standings in the five-team CWHL have Calgary, Montreal and Toronto at 2-0, Boston fourth with an 0-1-1 record and Brampton at 0-3-1.
In the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) over the weekend, former Wisconsin and U.S. Olympian Molly Engstrom scored the tie-breaking goal and added an assist to lead the Connecticut Whale to a 4-2 victory over the New York Riveters. Ivana Bilic, who played at Bemidji State last year, had an assist for the Whale (1-1), which is in third place in the four-team league. Former Wisconsin defenseman Courtney Burke had a goal and another ex-Badger, Madison Packer, an assist for New York – who got 34 saves from Katie Fitzgerald, the former St. Cloud State goalie.
The defending champion Boston Pride (3-0) stayed unbeaten with a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Beauts. Last year's NWHL most valuable player Brianna Decker, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Wisconsin, and former UMD standout Zoe Hickel each had an assist in Saturday's game. Decker is fourth in the league in scoring this season with two goals and two assists. Boston leads the league with 6 points, three more than Buffalo (1-1-1). The Whale are1-1 with two points and New York is 0-1-1
There are three dozen former WCHA women players on the rosters of the two professional women's hockey's hockey league this season.
Eighteen women's hockey alumni are spending the 2016-17 season playing in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) while 18 former WCHA players are competing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).
The Minnesota Whitecaps, an elite women's hockey team made up of post-collegiate players, also has 22 former WCHA players – from seven league schools – on its Minneapolis-based roster. It includes nine former Minnesota players (Rachael Bona, Hannah Brandt, Winny Brown, Katie Frischmann, Mira Jalosuo, Becky Kortum, Meghan Lorence, Chelsey Rosenthal and Kelly Seeler), four North Dakota alumni (Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Tanja Eischenschmid, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando) and four from St. Cloud State (Julie Friend, Carrie Holldorf, Meaghan Pezon and Haylea Schmid), two players from Minnesota Duluth (Jenny Potter and Emma Stauber), and one each from Bemidji State (Stephanie Anderson), Minnesota State (Alli Altmann) and Wisconsin (Alex Rigsby).
The Whitecaps tied Lindenwood 1-1 Saturday. On Sunday, Schmid scored the game-winning goal and Friend made 34 saves in a 4-3 victory over the Lady Lions in suburban St. Louis, Mo. The Whitecaps play at Bemidji State Nov. 11-12.
Here are the ex-WCHA players on professional team rosters:
Boston: Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin, Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Hillary Knight, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth
Buffalo: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Anne Schleper, Minnesota; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.
Connecticut: Molly Engstrom, Wisconsin; Ivana Bilic, Bemidji State; Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin.
New York: Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota; Milica McMillen, Minnesota; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State
Brampton: Laura McIntosh, Ohio State; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth; Kaitlyn Tougas, Bemidji State
Calgary: Sarah Davis, Minnesota; Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin; Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Meghan Mickelson, Wisconsin.
Montreal: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth
Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin; Kelly Terry, Minnesota;. Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Michelle Cava, Minnesota Duluth; Danielle Gagne, Ohio State; Vanessa Spataro, St. Cloud State.