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.
Noora Räty was an all-American goalie and a Patty Kazmaier Award finalist during her career at Minnesota. During her four-year stay in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Räty posted a 114-17-8 record with the Gophers.
It should come as no surprise to WCHA fans, then, that Räty is experiencing success while playing in China for Kunlun Red Star, one of the two new expansion teams in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).
Räty played on national championship teams at Minnesota in 2011–2012 and 2012–13 and the Gophers' team her senior year went 41–0–0. Räty, who has for her native Finland in the Olympics three times and plans to compete in the Winter Games in Korea in February, had 43 shutouts in her collegiate career.
She posted her second career shutout in the CWHL last Friday, making 22 saves in a 1-0 victory over Markham to complete a sweep for the Red Star. Zoe Hickel, a standout at UMD, had the game's lone goal. Hickel had two assists and former Bemidji State forward Stephanie Anderson added an assist in Kunlun's 4-2 victory over Markham in the series opener.
Räty made 34 saves in that game. On the season Noora has a 6-3 record and a 1.98 goals-against average (sixth-best in the league). Her .937 save percentage is third in the league and her two shutouts are tied for second among CWHL goalies.
In other CWHL series last week, Calgary and Vanke each scored sweeps. Calgary beat Boston 5-2 and 4-1 as former North Dakota forward Kayla Gardner had an assist for the Inferno in the series finale.
The Vanke Rays, playing on home ice in China, blanked Toronto 5-0 and scored a 3-2 shootout victory. Former Minnesota Duluth star Ashleigh Brykaliuk had an assist in the overtime win and added two assists in the series-opening shutout. Bryklaiuk is now third in the CWHL in scoring with 17 points (five goals and a league-best 12 assists.) Former Wisconsin skater Carolyn Prevost had a goal for Toronto in the overtime game.
The weekend results moved Calgary (8-0-1-1) into first place in the CWHL with 18 points, two more than Vanke (8-1-0) and four more than Kunlun (7-4-0). Montreal (5-2) is in fourth place with 10 points, Markham (3-7-2) is in fifth place with eight points, one more than Toronto (2-6-0-1). Boston (0-8-0-1) 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). M
innesota 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 NWHL was idle last week.
The standings in the NWHL show the Metropolitan Riveters (4-0) with 8 points, Buffalo (2-2) and Connecticut (2-2) are tied for second with four points and Boston 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 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).
The Whitecaps' next series is Dec. 1-2 at Minnesota State.
Olympic preparations continue in North America this weekend, as the U.S. Women's National Team returns to action Sunday, Dec. 3 when it plays Team Canada at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The game is part of the USA's pre-Olympic schedule. For information and schedule on the Time is Now Tour, Presented by Toyota, which consists of a series of games between Canada and the U.S., visit TheTimeisNowTour.com
Team USA added former UMD defenseman Sidney Morin to its roster Monday, meaning there are 16 former and current WCHA players on the U.S. roster.
Here is the breakdown of WCHA player participation in Sunday's game.
* -- denotes that player has collegiate eligibility remaining
United States (16)
Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin
*Maddie Rooney, Minnesota Duluth
Megan Bozek, Minnesota
Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota
Sidney Morin, Minnesota Duluth
Gigi Marvin, Minnesota
Lee Stecklein, Minnesota
Hannah Brandt, Minnesota
Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota
Brianna Decker, Wisconsin
Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin
Amanda Kessel, Minnesota
Hilary Knight, Wisconsin
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, North Dakota
*Annie Pankowski, Wisconsin
*Kelly Pannek, Minnesota
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin
Halli Krzyzaniak, North Dakota
Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth
Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth
Meaghan Mikkelson, Wisconsin
*Emily Clark, Wisconsin
Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth
Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin
*Sarah Potomak, Minnesota
Natalie Spooner, Ohio State
Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin Here are the WCHA alumnae on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Nov. 25:
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
Calgary: Kayla Gardner, North Dakota.
Kunlun (China) Red Star: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth; Noora Räty, 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