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.
Meghan Duggan was always at her best when the games were the most important during her college hockey career. Why should things be any different in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL)?
Duggan, a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner when she played at Wisconsin, had two goals and one assist to help unbeaten Boston to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut on Saturday. Duggan had two goals in a four-goal third period for the Blades, the defending NWHL champs. She now has scored 10 goals in the last eight games.
Brianna Decker, the ex-Wisconsin all-American and another Kazmaier Award winner, had one goal and Gigi Marvin, a former Minnesota star, had two assists for Boston, the league leaders.
In the other NWHL game over the weekend, New York edged Buffalo, 3-2. Yet another former Kazmaier winner from the WCHA, Amanda Kessel, who starred at Minnesota, had two assists. Courtney Burke, a former Wisconsin defenseman, and former Minnesota defender Milica McMillen, each added an assist apiece for the Riveters. Katie Fitzgerald, who played goal at St. Cloud State, made 22 saves in the victory. Former Gopher Megan Bozek had an assist for Buffalo.
The NWHL is idle until Feb. 18 because of the league all-star break. NWHL officials said last week that the league 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 will play in the NWHL All Star Game, to be held Feb. 12 in Pittsburgh. The all-stars are Fitzgerald, Burke, Decker, Duggan, Bozek, Marvin, Kessel (who will be captain of one of the teams), former Minnesota Duluth forward Zoe Hickel and former Wisconsin standouts Madison Packer and Hilary Knight. Another former Wisconsin skater, Sis Paulsen, an assistant coach with the New York Riveters, will coach one of the teams. A full story is here: http://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/743351?referrer_id=2739439
Boston leads the NWHL with an 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.
Duggan's recent scoring spurt has her tied for the league lead in goals with 10, while she is second with 16 points. Decker is fourth in the NWHL with 15 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 she ranks fourth among NWHL goalies in save percentage (.905) and goals-against average (2.90).
In the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) last weekend, Montreal swept a series from Toronto, winning 2-0 and 2-1. Ex-Minnesota standout Kelly Terry was the only WCHA alumna to have a point in the series, scoring Toronto's lone goal.
In the other CWHL series last weekend, Calgary swept Boston, 4-0 and 9-2. Former Minnesota Duluth defender Brigette Lacquette had a goal and two assists in the shutout victory, while former Wisconsin star Megan Mikkelson had two goals and three assists in the blowout. Ex-Minnesota forward Sarah Davis and former Minnesota Duluth forward Haley Irwin also had an assist apiece. Irwin, a former Olympic gold medal winner with Team Canada, is featured in a profile here: http://www.thecwhl.com/allstar2017-irwin
Montreal's Caroline Ouellette 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 and Montreal's Ouellette – have been named to this week's CWHL all-star game. Spooner and Mikkelson, who were partners on Canada's version of the Amazing Race TV show, were elected captains of one team. A full story is here: http://www.thecwhl.com/campbell-mikkelson-spooner-lead-2017-star-teams.
The CWHL all-star game will be played Feb. 11 in Toronto. A full story is here: http://www.thecwhl.com/32-players-named-2017-cwhl-star-game.
The CWHL standings at the all-star break have Calgary (19-3-0) in the league lead with 38 points. Montreal (16-4-2) is second with 34 points. 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. 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.1.
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: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; 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; Vanessa Spataro, St. Cloud