Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - November 7
By Bill Brophy for
39 women with WCHA ties will take part in the 2017 Four Nations Cup this week

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.

Preparation for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games kicks into high gear this week with the 2017 Four Nations Cup, and 39 current, former or incoming players of the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will be on the Florida ice representing the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden.

The 39 women with WCHA ties include 11 from the University of Minnesota, 10 from the University of Wisconsin, seven from the University of Minnesota Duluth, two from Ohio State University, one from Minnesota State University – and eight from the University of North Dakota. Six have collegiate eligibility remaining and are expected to compete in the WCHA during the 2018-19 season: Team USA goaltender Maddie Rooney (Minnesota Duluth), and forwards Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin) and Kelly Pannek (Minnesota); and, Team Canada forwards Emily Clark (UW), Amy Potomak (UMN) and Sarah Potomak (UMN).

The 2017 Four Nations Cup takes place from Nov. 7-12, in Wesley Chapel and Tampa, Fla., as part of the Time is Now Tour, Presented by Toyota. A full breakdown of WCHA player participation is below.

United States (15)

Goaltenders (2)
Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin
*Maddie Rooney, Minnesota Duluth

Defense (4)
Megan Bozek, Minnesota
Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota
Gigi Marvin, Minnesota
Lee Stecklein, Minnesota

Forwards (9)
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

Canada (12)

Goaltenders (1)
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin

Defense (4)
Halli Krzyzaniak, North Dakota
Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth
Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth
Meaghan Mikkelson, Wisconsin

Forwards (7)
*Emily Clark, Wisconsin
Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth
Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin
*Amy Potomak, Minnesota
*Sarah Potomak, Minnesota
Natalie Spooner, Ohio State
Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin

Finland (7)

Goaltenders (2)
Noora Räty, Minnesota
Eveliina Suonpää, Minnesota Duluth

Defense (2)
Mira Jalosuo, D (Minnesota)
Anna Kilponen, North Dakota (currently Quinnipiac)

Forwards (3)
Michelle Karvinen, North Dakota
Emma Nuutinen, North Dakota (currently Mercyhurst)
Susanna Tapani, North Dakota

Sweden (5)

Defense (3)
Johanna Fällman, North Dakota
Emilia (Andersson) Ramboldt, Minnesota State
Annie Svedin, Ohio State

Forwards (2)
Maria Lindh, Minnesota Duluth
Pernilla Winberg, Minnesota Duluth

* denotes has collegiate eligibility remaining

Updates from WCHA alumni in the pros…

After graduating from Minnesota Duluth last spring, Ashleigh Brykaliuk knew she wanted to play pro hockey. She probably never figured it would be in China.

But Brykaliuk has become the early season star for the Vanke Rays, one of two expansion teams based in China for the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). She had the game-winning goal to win the shootout Saturday in the Rays' 2-1 victory over Boston. Brykaliuk followed that performance up with two goals and two assists Sunday as Vanke completed the series sweep with a 7-2 victory.

She now is fourth in the league in scoring with two goals, five assists (which is second best in the league) and seven points. In the other CWHL game last weekend, Calgary took a pair of decisions over Markham – winning 3-1 and 7-2. Kayla Gardner, who played at North Dakota last season, had a goal in Calgary's victory Sunday.

The victories moved Calgary (5-0-1) into first place in the CWHL with 11 points, three more than Montreal (4-0) and Markham (3-3-2). Vanke (3-1) moved into fourth place with six points, two more than Toronto (2-2). Kunlun, the other Chinese expansion team, is 1-3, with two points and Boston (0-5-1) is in last place with one point.

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

The New York Times wrote about a growing sentiment among some members of the Canadian and U.S. National teams, including former UMD skater Brigette Lacquette, that the league should merge to help grow the game. The story is here:

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.

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.

In NWHL play over the weekend, Connecticut beat Boston 2-1 and the Metropolitan Riveters stayed unbeaten, defeating the defending champions from Buffalo, 6-2. Former Wisconsin skaters Courtney Burke and Kelly Nash each had an assist for the Riveters, who used 16 saves from ex-St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald in winning their second game. Buffalo got 31 stops from former Minnesota star Amanda Leveille.

The early standings in the NWHL have the Riveters (2-0) with 4 points, Buffalo and Connecticut each 1-1 with two points, and Boston winless in two games.

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 Nov. 1:

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.