Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - December 13
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Noémie Marin, arguably, is one of the best athletes to ever play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women's League for Minnesota Duluth.

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.

Noémie Marin, arguably, is one of the best athletes to ever play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women's League for Minnesota Duluth.

Before coming to the Twin Ports, Marin won two Canadian softball championship most valuable player awards. Then she made her mark at UMD and in the WCHA. Twice Marin was a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-ten finalist for the Bulldogs and led Duluth in scoring during the 2006-07 season. After her college hockey career was over, she went back to the softball diamond and competed for Team Canada in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

It should be no surprise then that Marin is still performing at an elite level in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). Playing for Montréal last week, the 33-year-old Marin scored four goals in helping her team jump into a first-place tie with 7-1 and 7-3 victories over Toronto. Marin, who stands 5-foot-6, had one goal and another former Bulldog, Emmanuelle Blais, had a goal and an assist in the series opener. Marin added a hat trick in Sunday's game where a former foe from Wisconsin, Carolyn Prevost, scored a goal for Toronto.

Marin has nine goals on the season, fourth-best in the CWHL and her 12 points puts her tenth in the scoring derby. In other CWHL play last week, Markham beat Boston twice, 2-1 and 4-2, while Kunlun Red Star swept Vanke Rays 6-0 and 4-2 in the first head-to-head matchup of expansion teams that play in China. Former Minnesota all-American goalie Noora Räty had 12 saves in the shutout and 36 stops in the 4-2 victory. Former UMD forward Zoe Hickel had four assists in the series opener as former Bulldog Jessica Wong and ex-Bemidji State standout Stephanie Anderson chipped in goals for Red Star. Anderson had a goal and an assist and Wong added an assist in the series finale.

Hickel's big scoring night moved her into seventh place in the league scoring derby with 14 points. Her 12 assists ties Hickel with her former UMD teammate, Vanke's Ashleigh Brykaliuk, for most assists in the league. Brykaliuk's 17 points are third-best in the league.

Twelve WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season playing in the 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.

Calgary (8-0-1-1) was idle last week but remains in a tie for the top in the CWHL with 18 points. The sweeps by Montreal (9-2-0) and Kunlun (9-4-0) moved them into a first-place tie, two points better than Vanke (8-4). Markham (5-7-2-1) is in fifth place with 13 points, two more than Toronto (3-9-0-1). Boston (0-9-0-2) is in last place with two points.

In the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), home to 11 WCHA alumnae, the Metropolitan Riveters stayed unbeaten last week with a 4-2 victory over Buffalo. Former Wisconsin standout Kelly Nash had a goal and an assist, while ex-Badger Jenny Ryan added an assist in the Riveters' sixth victory. Former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald made 13 saves in the win, while former Minnesota netminder Amanda Leveille had 36 saves for Buffalo. In the league's other game, Boston won its second straight game, besting Connecticut 5-1. The standings in the NWHL show the Metropolitan Riveters (6-0) with 12 points, seven points better than Boston (2-3-1), which jumped into second place. Buffalo (2-4) and Connecticut (2-4) are tied for third with four points apiece.

Wisconsin has six former Western Collegiate Hockey Association 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.

There are also 16 former WCHA players playing pro hockey in the Swedish elite league. Former UMD star Lara Stalder, a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist last season, is the league's leading scorer with 46 points (30g-16a), just ahead of former North Dakota standout Michelle Karvinen (17-25=42). A list of the Swedish scoring leaders is here: http://stats.swehockey.se/Players/Statistics/ScoringLeaders/8123

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 play Minnesota Jan. 5 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis and face Minnesota Duluth at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth Jan. 6.

The U.S. Women's National team returns to action Friday, Dec.15 when it plays Team Canada in San Jose, Calif., while the rivals play their final game of the USA's pre-Olympic schedule on Dec. 17 in Edmonton, Alberta. For information on the Time is Now Tour, which consists of a series of games between Canada and the U.S. presented by Toyota, visit TheTimeisNowTour.com

Team Canada took a 2-0 victory over Team USA last Tuesday in Winnipeg. Here is an account of the game: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/sports/amateur/canada-tops-us-2-0-in-pre-olympic-womens-hockey-462200063.html

Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the two rosters for Friday's game.
* -- denotes that player has eligibility remaining

United States (14)

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

Defense (5): Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota; Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota; Sidney Morin, Minnesota Duluth

Forwards (8): Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota; Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota Hilary Knight, Wisconsin; Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, North Dakota; *Kelly Pannek, Minnesota

Canada (12)

Goaltender (1): Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin

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

Forwards (6): *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 Dec. 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 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