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.
Both professional women's leagues took a break from league play last week, but the best players – including several WCHA alumnae – got together to showcase their skills at their respective league all-star games.
Amanda Kessel, a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner when she played at Minnesota, was captain of one of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) all-star teams and starred in the spotlight. Playing in Pittsburgh, where her brother Phil is a Stanley Cup winner with the National Hockey League Penguins, Amanda scored three goals to lead her team to an 11-10 victory.
A full report on the game and NWHL all-star weekend is here: https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/nwhl-all-star-weekend-brings-memories-and-excitement/c-286705126
Team Kessel received a running start into Sunday's game by winning Saturday's skills competition, 3-2, behind Hilary Knight, the ex-Wisconsin all-American, who won the shooting competition.
The NWHL is idle until Feb. 18, but there was a trade during the all-star break as Boston dealt former Minnesota Duluth star Zoe Hickel to Connecticut. Also, NWHL officials said that it will shorten the season and playoffs to allow players to train for the IIHF world championships in Michigan next month. The story and an update on the league's plans for this season and next are featured in this ESPN story: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/18608812/nwhl-complete-playoffs-world-championships
Ten alumnae from WCHA schools played in the NWHL All Star Game. The all-stars are former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald; Hickel; ex-Wisconsin stars Madison Packer, Courtney Burke, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and Knight; plus, former Minnesota standouts Megan Bozek, Gigi Marvin and Kessel. Another former Wisconsin skater, Sis Paulsen, an assistant coach with the New York Riveters, coached one of the teams.
Duggan is tied for the league lead in goals with 10 and is second in points with 15. Decker is fourth in the NWHL with 15 points and has the third-most goals scored (nine). Kessel is third in the league with nine assists. Fitzgerald is tied for second in the league in shutouts (2), while ranking fourth among NWHL goalies in save percentage (.905) and goals-against average (2.90).
Boston leads the NWHL with a 12-0-0-0 record and 24 points, while New York (6-6-3) is in second place with 15 points, four ahead of Buffalo (5-7-1). Connecticut (4-10-0) has lost six-straight games and is in fourth place with eight points.
In the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) all-star game Saturday in Toronto, over 8,000 fans saw a team coached by Carlee Campbell beat a squad coached by former WCHA players Natalie Spooner of Ohio State and Megan Mikkelson of Wisconsin, 9-5. Ex-Minnesota standout Kelly Terry scored a goal and former Minnesota Duluth forward Haley Irwin had a goal and an assist. An account of the game is here: http://www.thecwhl.com/team-campbell-beats-team-spooner-mikkelson-2017-cwhl-star-game
The big crowd gave players hope that a paycheck may someday follow their forechecks and backchecks after the CWHl's 10th season. A story is here: http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Hockey/Women/2017/02/11/22703600.html.
Montreal's Caroline Ouellette, one of the best to ever play at UMD, continues to be among the CWHL scoring leaders with 31 points (15 goals and 16 assists), which is fourth in the scoring derby. Spooner is in eighth place with 20 points (13 goals, seven assists). Seven former WCHA players – Ouellette, Mikkelson, Irwin, ex-UMD defenseman Jocelyn Larocque of Brampton; Spooner, Terry, and Michela Cava, a UMD alum, of Toronto – played in the CWHL all-star game.
The CWHL standings have Calgary (19-3-0) in the league lead with 38 points. Montreal (16-4-2) is second with 34 points. Both Calgary and Montreal have clinched playoff spots. Brampton (10-10-1-0-1) is third with 22 and tied with Toronto (9-11-3-0-1), while Boston (2-19-1) has five points. The CWHL regular season draws to a close next weekend before the CWHL Playoffs start, leading towards the Clarkson Cup Final March 5th in Ottawa.
Nineteen women's hockey alumni are spending the 2016-17 season playing in the CWHL, while 17 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, Casey Ambroz and Emma Stauber), and one each from Bemidji State (Stephanie Anderson), Minnesota State (Alli Altmann) and Wisconsin (Alex Rigsby). Seven members of the Whitecaps were on Team USA and won a goal medal at the Four Nations Cup.
Here are the ex-WCHA players currently on professional team rosters, effective Feb.10.
Boston: Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin, Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Hillary Knight, Wisconsin
Buffalo: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Anne Schleper, Minnesota; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Meghan Huertas, Minnesota Duluth.
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; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth.
Montreal: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth
Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin; Kelly Terry, Minnesota; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Michela Cava, Minnesota Duluth; Danielle Gagne, Ohio State