WCHA In The Pros Update: October 24
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
Brianna Decker, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Wisconsin, was the most valuable player in the National Women's Hockey League and she has picked right up where she left off last season.

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.

Brianna Decker, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Wisconsin, was the most valuable player in the National Women's Hockey League and she has picked right up where she left off last season.

Decker scored one goal and had one assist to lead the Boston Pride to a 5-1 victory over the New York Riveters Saturday in one of two NWHL games played last weekend. Decker is now tied for the league lead in points (6), goals (3) and assists (3) in the first month of the season. Even in her college days, Decker's skills reminded her coach, ex-Olympic and NHL player Mark Johnson of how he played the game. (http://www.uwbadgers.com/news/2016/10/19/womens-hockey-badgering-mark-johnson.aspx)

Former Minnesota Duluth standout Zoe Hickel and ex-Minnesota star Gigi Marvin also scored a goal in the Boston victory while Decker's former Wisconsin teammate, Meghan Duggan, another former Kazmaier winner, had an assist. Pride co-captain Hilary Knight, another ex-Wisconsin star, missed the game with an injury and Courtney Burke, New York's defenseman from Wisconsin, had to leave the game in the second period with a lower body injury.

New York was already playing without Amanda Kessel, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Minnesota, who has a lower body injury. The injury will force Kessel to miss next month's Four Nation's Cup. (http://www.usahockey.com/news_article/show/712438?referrer_id=752796)

In the other NWHL game last week, Connecticut beat the Buffalo Beauts 7-5 as Jordan Brickner, another former Badger, had a goal. Lisa Chesson, a former Ohio State defender, had two assists and Megan Bozek, an ex-Minnesota defender, had one assist for Buffalo. Amanda Leveille, a Minnesota alum, made nine saves in one period of work for Buffalo.

Boston, the defending champion, leads the NWHL with a 4-0 record and eight points, while Connecticut has a 2-1 record and four points. Buffalo (1-2-1) is in third place with three points and New York is 0-3. The NWHL is idle until Nov. 12.

In the Canadian Women's Hockey League, Montreal stayed unbeaten with 2-1 and 4-1 victories over Toronto. Former UMD standout Noemie Marin had a goal in the series finale and Carolyn Ouellette, the former UMD all-American and all-time leading scorer in CWHL, added to her career totals with two assists for Montreal (4-0 with 8 points). Calgary (2-0) and Toronto (2-2) are tied for second in the CWHL with four points, while Boston (0-1-1) and Brampton (0-3-1) have one point.

Natalie Spooner had a goal for Toronto and leads the CWHL in scoring with seven points (4 goals and 3 assists).

Spooner, a member of the Canadian Olympic team in 2014, is one of four former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players from the CWHL who will play for Team Canada in the Four Nations Tournament, which will be played Nov. 1-5 in Vierumaki, Finland. Haley Irwin, a Minnesota Duluth alum playing for Calgary, Irwin's former UMD teammate Jocelyne Larocque, playing at Brampton, and ex-Minnesota star Sarah Davis will also play for Canada. Former UMD assistant coach Laura Schuler is Canada's head coach.

Eighteen women's hockey alumni are spending the 2016-17 season playing in the CWHL while 18 former WCHA players are competing in the NWHL.

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' next games are at Bemidji State Nov. 11-12.

There are 11 WCHA alums from the NWHL and Whitecaps that will play for Team USA in the Four Nations Cup – Brandt, Amsley-Benzie, Rigsby, Anderson, Lamoureux-Davidson, Lamoureux-Morando; Decker, Bozek, Duggan, Knight, and Anne Schleper (Minnesota who is playing with Buffalo).

Entering its 21st edition, the 4 Nations Cup features the world's top women's hockey nations – Canada, the USA, Sweden and Finland and is hosted on a rotating basis between these hockey powers. The puck drops on the 2016 tournament on November 1 as Canada takes on Finland and USA plays Sweden (Nov.2). Canada faces the USA (Nov.4) in preliminary action before the finals are hosted Nov. 5. Here are the ex-WCHA players currently on professional team rosters:

NWHL (18)

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

CWHL (18)

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.