WCHA In The Pros Update: February 20
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
Former Gopher, Amanda Leveille, ade 40 saves in a 3-1 loss for the Buffalo Beauts.

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.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association isn't the only women's league that starts playoff action this weekend.

The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) crowned its regular season champion last weekend and the CWHL starts the first round of the playoffs this week. Playing in a matchup of the CWHL's top two teams Saturday, Calgary got goals from Haley Irwin, who played at Minnesota Duluth, and Blayre Turnbull, a former Wisconsin star, and beat Montreal 3-0 to wrap up the regular season title.

Montreal came back to take a 5-3 victory over Calgary on Sunday. Turnbull and former Minnesota Duluth standout Brigette Lacquette each had a goal for Calgary and Sarah Davis, a Minnesota alum, added an assist in the regular season finale. In the CWHL other series, Brampton swept Boston, winning 6-0 and 5-4. Jenna McParland, another former UMD star, had an assist in the Sunday game.

Here is a look at the CWHL playoff pairings and final standings: http://www.thecwhl.com/2017-cwhl-clarkson-cup-playoffs-set-begin-friday-calgary-montreal

Montreal's Caroline Ouellette, one of the best to ever play at UMD, finished fourth among CWHL scoring leaders with 31 points (15 goals and 16 assists). Former Ohio State star Natalie Spooner is in 11th place with 20 points (13 goals, seven assists).

The National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) resumed league play after its all-star break with two games. Amanda Kessel, a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner when she played at Minnesota, had four assists and ex-Badger Courtney Burke scored the overtime game-winning goal as New York beat Connecticut 6-5. Katie Fitzgerald, a former St. Cloud State goalie, came off the bench to make 18 saves and allowed three goals to pick up the win for the Riveters. Madison Packer, a Wisconsin alum, had a goal and Milica McMillen, a Minnesota alum, had an assist for the Riveters. Former Minnesota Duluth star Zoe Hickel had a pair of goals for Connecticut.

In the other NWHL game, Boston stayed unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over Buffalo. Former Wisconsin all-Americans Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight each had goals and another former Badger, Brianna Decker, had two assists for the Pride. Gigi Marvin, a former Minnesota star, had an assist for Boston, while Amanda Leveille, another ex-Gopher, made 40 saves for the losing Beauts.

Two Buffalo defenders who played at Minnesota also made news last week. Former Olympian Anne Schleper announced her retirement from the game, a month after marrying San Francisco Giants center fielder Denard Span. The story is here: http://www.sctimes.com/story/sports/2017/02/15/anne-schleper-retires-hockey/97966394/

Another Beauts defender, Megan Bozek, has been nominated for the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame. The story is here: http://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/758911?referrer_id=2739439

Duggan leads the league lead in goals with 11 and is tied for fourth in points with 17. Decker also has 17 points with nine goals and eight assists. Kessel is second in the league with 13 assists. Fitzgerald is tied for second in the league in shutouts (2), while she ranks third among NWHL goalies in save percentage (.902) and goals-against average (2.93).

Boston has clinched the NWHL with a 13-0-0-0 record and 26 points, while New York (7-6-3-1) is in second place with 17 points, six ahead of Buffalo (5-8-1). Connecticut (4-10-0-1) is in fourth place with eight points.

Nineteen women's hockey alumni are spending the 2016-17 season playing in the CWHL while 16 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.17.

NWHL (16)

Boston: Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin, Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Hillary Knight, Wisconsin

Buffalo: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; 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

CWHL (19)

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