Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - October 24
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Shown here in the 2014 Winter Olympics, UW grad Brianna Decker and Team USA began working toward the 2018 Games with a 5-2 exhibition win over Canada.

Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey and on games involving the United States and Canada, leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The website will also offer periodic stories on former WCHA players.

On a weekend when a team from China made history and played its first game in the Canadian Women's Hockey League, the national teams from the United States and Canada opened preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics with an exhibition game in Québec City, Québec.

Three former Wisconsin players scored four goals for the U.S. as the Americans rolled to a 5-2 victory Sunday. Brianna Decker had two goals and an assist, while ex-Badger Hilary Knight and current UW skater Annie Pankowski scored a goal apiece for Team USA. Former Minnesota defenseman Megan Bozek had two assists and current Minnesota Duluth goalie Maddie Rooney made 23 saves to backstop the win. Both Rooney and Pankowski are eligible to return to their WCHA teams next season.

Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin's Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner last year, had 19 stops for Team Canada and ex-UMD defenseman Brigette Lacquette had an assist. A box score and game summary from the exhibition series opener is here: Click here

Game Two in the series is Wednesday, Oct. 25, in Boston at 6:30 p.m. CDT. For more information and schedule on the "Time is Now Tour," which consists of a series of games between the longtime hockey rivals presented by Toyota, visit TheTimeisNowTour.com

While the tour was just beginning, the CWHL was making history in its 11th season, as Markham opened its new rink with two games against Kunlun Red Star, one of the league's two new Chinese expansion teams. Markham won both games, 2-1 and 3-0, but Red Star forward Zoe Hickel, a former Minnesota Duluth player, got her name in the record books by scoring the first CWHL goal for her club. Noora Räty, the former all-American goalie from Minnesota, made 35 saves in the series finale for Kunlun.

In the league's other series, Calgary won two games from Boston 3-1, as ex-North Dakota forward Kayla Gardner had an assist, and 5-0. Here is a story on the changes in the CWHL this season: Click Here

The CWHL standings have Markham (3-1) in first place with six points, two better than Calgary (2-0) and Montreal (2-0). Toronto (1-1) is fourth with two points, followed by Vanke, another new Chinese expansion team which has yet to play a game, Kunlun (0-2) and Boston (0-4).

Nearly two dozen former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women's League players will start the season on the rosters of the two professional women's hockey leagues this season.

Eleven WCHA alumni are spending the 2017-18 season playing in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), while 12 former players are competing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).

Minnesota Duluth has eight former players in the CWHL, while Ohio State, Minnesota, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player in the seven-team league. Former UMD star Caroline Ouellette, a four-time Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada, is the all-time leading scorer in the CWHL and is one of three former Bulldogs on Montreal.

The NWHL season begins its third season Saturday Oct. 28, when the defending champion Buffalo Beauts face the Connecticut Whale and the Boston Pride play at the Metropolitan Riveters. Wisconsin has six former players competing in the four-team NWHL, including five on the Riveters, while Minnesota has two alums in the league. Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth have one player apiece in the league.

The Minnesota Whitecaps, an elite women's hockey team made up of post-collegiate players, also has 26 former WCHA players – from six schools – on its Minneapolis-based roster. It includes eight former Minnesota players (Winny Brown, Katie Frischmann, Mira Jalosuo, Becky Kortum, Chelsey Rosenthal, Paige Haley, Shyler Sletta and Kelly Seeler Buchta), eight players from St. Cloud State (Julie Friend, Carrie Holldorf, Meaghan Pezon, Lauren Hespenheide, Hanna Brodt, Kalli Funk, Lisa Martinson and Haylea Schmid), four from Minnesota State (Alli Altmann, Anna Fiegert, Lauren Barnes and Kari Lundberg) three North Dakota alumni (Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Tanja Eischenschmid and Amy Menke) and two players from Minnesota Duluth (Demi Crossman and Emma Stauber), and one from Bemidji State (Rachael Kelly).

Here are the WCHA alumni on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Oct. 22:

NWHL (11)

Buffalo: Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.

Connecticut: Meghan Huertas, Minnesota Duluth; Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin.

Metropolitan: Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Erika Lawler, Wisconsin; Jenny Ryan, Wisconsin; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State.

CWHL (12)

Calgary: Kayla Gardner, North Dakota.

Kunlun (China) Red Star: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth; Noora Raty, Minnesota.

Markham: Laura McIntosh, Ohio State; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth.

Montreal: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth. Vanke (China) Rays: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Minnesota Duluth.