Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - December 5
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Katie Fitzgerald was named the goaltender of the year in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) last season after surprising many in the league with how well she played between the pipes after graduating from St. Cloud State.

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.

Katie Fitzgerald was named the goaltender of the year in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) last season after surprising many in the league with how well she played between the pipes after graduating from St. Cloud State.

Now, she is proving that last year was no fluke. Fitzgerald posted her first shutout of the season Sunday, making 25 saves and keeping the Metropolitan Riveters unbeaten with a 4-0 victory over Connecticut.

Fitzgerald has only allowed seven goals in five games, has a .949 save percentage and a 1.40 goals-against average. She has posted the only shutout in the league this season and The Sporting News, in assessing the first quarter of the NWHL season, lists Fitzgerald's play as one of the third-year pro league's top storylines. Here is that story: Click Here

In October, Fitzgerald spoke about her life as a pro hockey player in a story in the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. She lives in Jersey City, NJ, near the team's home arena in Newark, and is working with a marketing agency in retail merchandising. Because the players have jobs outside of hockey, the Riveters usually practice two nights a week and play one game per weekend. She worked last summer with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league.

"I would love to play as long as I can," Fitzgerald told the suburban Chicago newspaper. "There used to be a limitation but now there isn't. It's important to continue because I'm not ready to give it up, especially seeing girls on the team older than I am who are still playing.

"I love this league and playing for the love of the game. I'm so fortunate and so grateful to still be able to do this."

Last weekend, Fitzgerald was aided by the return of former Wisconsin standout Madison Packer from the injured list. Packer had two assists for the Riveters against Connecticut and former Badger Kelly Nash added a goal. Ex-Badgers Erika Lawler, Courtney Burke and Jenny Ryan all had one assist in the Riveters' shutout victory.

In the other NWHL game last week, Boston won its first game of the season with a 3-2 victory over defending champion Buffalo. Former Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille had 33 saves for Buffalo.

The standings in the NWHL show the Metropolitan Riveters (5-0) with 10 points, Buffalo (2-3) and Connecticut (2-3) are tied for second with four points and Boston (1-3-1) is in fourth place with three points.

Wisconsin has six former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) 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. Twelve WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season playing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), while another 11 are playing in the 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.

The CWHL played a limited schedule last week. Montréal won a pair of games. The Les Canadiennes took an 8-3 decision over Toronto. Noémie Marin had an assist in the victory, while former Wisconsin player Carolyn Prevost scored for Toronto. Marin had a goal and an assist in Montréal's 3-2 shootout victory over Markham, while former Ohio State star Laura McIntosh had a goal for Markham.

Calgary (8-0-1-1) was idle last week but remains in first place in the CWHL with 18 points, two more than Vanke (8-1-0) and four more than Kunlun (7-4-0) and Montreal (7-2). Markham (3-7-2-1) is in fifth place with nine points, two more than Toronto (3-7-0-1). Boston (0-8-0-1) is in last place with one point.

There are also 16 former WCHA players playing pro hockey in the Swedish elite league. Former UMD star Lara Stalder, a Patty Kazmaier Award finalist last season, is the league's leading scorer, just ahead of former North Dakota standout Michelle Karvinen. A list of the Swedish scoring leaders is here: Click Here

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) and two players from Minnesota Duluth (Demi Crossman and Emma Stauber), and one from Bemidji State (Rachael Kelly).

The Whitecaps lost a pair of games to Minnesota State last weekend in Mankato and play at Minnesota Duluth Jan. 6. The U.S. Women's National team returns to action Tuesday, Dec. 5 when it plays Team Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The game is part of the USA's pre-Olympic schedule. For information and schedule 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 2-1 victory over Team USA before more than 9,000 people Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. Here is an account of the game and an update on the American team with just over two months until the Olympics begin: Click Here

Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the two rosters for Tuesday's game.

* -- denotes that player has collegiate eligibility remaining

United States (16)

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

Defense (5)
Megan Bozek, Minnesota
Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota
Sidney Morin, Minnesota Duluth
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 (11)

Goaltenders (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 alumni 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