Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - November 21
By Bill Brophy for
Ashleigh Brykaliuk had a goal and two assists in each game last week for Vanke and is now second in the CWHL in scoring with 14 points (five goals and nine assists, which are second in the league).

Each week 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.

Three former Minnesota Duluth skaters made names for themselves in the Twin Ports for four years in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Now they are doing the same in China and helping to grow the game of women's hockey globally.

The first Canadian Women's Hockey League games ever played in China kicked off on Saturday when Kunlun Red Star hosted the Toronto Furies and scored a 3-1 victory at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center. Zoe Hickel, a standout at UMD, had a goal and her former Bulldog teammate, Jessica Wong, had a pair of assists in the first pro league game played in China.

Noora Räty, the former Minnesota all-American goalie, made 23 saves and recorded a shutout the next day in a 2-0 Red Star victory over Toronto. Hickel had an assist in the series finale.

Another UMD alum playing in China had a big weekend when the Vanke Rays, playing on home ice for the first time, swept Markham 6-1 and 5-2. Ashleigh Brykaliuk had a goal and two assists in each game for Vanke and is now second in the CWHL in scoring with 14 points (five goals and nine assists, which are second in the league).

The weekend results moved Calgary (6-0-1) into first place in the CWHL with 14 points, two more than Vanke (6-1-0) and four more than Montreal (5-2-0) and Kunlun (5-4-0). Markham (3-5-2) is in fifth place with eight points, two more than Toronto (3-5). Boston (0-6-1) is in last place with one point.

Twelve WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season playing in the CWHL, while another 11 are playing in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL).

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.

Wisconsin has six former players competing in the four-team NWHL, including five on the Riveters, while Minnesota has two alumnae in the league. Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth have one player apiece in the league.

The Metropolitan Riveters remained unbeaten in the NWHL with a 6-3 victory over defending champion Buffalo. Rookie Jenny Ryan, who played defense at Wisconsin last season, had a goal and an assist, and two other former Badgers, Erica Lawler and Courtney Burke, each had an assist for the Riveters. Katie Fitzgerald, the ex-St. Cloud State goalie, made 18 saves and outdueled former Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille, who had 31 stops for Buffalo.

The standings in the NWHL show the Riveters (4-0) in first place with 8 points. Buffalo (2-2) and Connecticut (2-2) are tied for second with four points apiece, while Boston is winless in three games, but has an overtime loss and one point.

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 alumnae (Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Tanja Eischenschmid and Amy Menke), two players from Minnesota Duluth (Demi Crossman and Emma Stauber), and one from Bemidji State (Rachael Kelly).

The Whitecaps' next series is Dec. 1-2 at Minnesota State.

Here are the WCHA alumni on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Nov. 18:

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.

*On maternity leave