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.
It may be a new year, but it was a familiar storyline in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) when the league resumed play last weekend.
There are five former University of Wisconsin players who play for the Metropolitan Riveters. Each of them contributed as the Riveters stayed unbeaten with a 6-1 victory over Connecticut last weekend. Courtney Burke had a goal and Madison Packer, Kelly Nash and Erika Lawler each chipped in with two assists. Jenny Ryan also had an assist for the Riveters, who helped former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald to her eighth victory of the season. Fitzgerald, the league's best goalie with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage, had 28 saves.
Fitzgerald, Lawler, Burke, who is second in the league in scoring with one goal, a league-leading 11 assists and 12 points, and Ryan, fourth in scoring (3-7-10), will all play for the NWHL all-stars this weekend when they play the U.S. Olympic team in suburban Tampa, Fla. Saturday and Monday. The Hartford Courant took a mid-season look at the NWHL and examined the league's role in developing players for USA Hockey. http://www.courant.com/sports/hc-sp-nwhl-usa-national-team-20180102-story.htm
In the NWHL's other game last weekend, Buffalo downed Boston 3-2 as former Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille made 21 stops for the Beauts. The Buffalo franchise became more stabilized before Christmas when Terry and Kim Pegula, who own the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, purchased the Beauts. Details are in this New York Times story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/21/sports/hockey/nwhl-buffalo-beauts-pegula.html
The Riveters (8-0) have 16 points and are the runaway league leaders, eight points better than defending champion Buffalo (4-4). Boston (2-4-2) is in third place with six points and Connecticut (2-6) is in fourth place with four points.
Eleven WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season in the NWHL while another 13 are playing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).
Wisconsin has six former 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 in the league. Minnesota Duluth has eight former players in the seven-team CWHL, while Wisconsin, Ohio State, Minnesota, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player.
In the CWHL last week, former Minnesota Duluth star Jessica Wong was named the player of the month for December. The forward for Kunlun had two goals and five points to help the Red Star go unbeaten during the month.
Defending champion Montréal climbed into first place by sweeping Calgary, winning 2-1 in a shootout and snapping the Inferno's 10-game unbeaten streak with a 3-0 decision.
Former Wisconsin standout Carolyne Prevost scored the game-winning goal with 4:02 left to play to give Toronto a 2-1 victory over Boston on Sunday and a series split. Boston got its first win of the season Saturday, a 4-2 decision.
Markham's Laura McIntosh, an Ohio State alumna, scored the game-winning goal with 1:34 remaining in regulation to help the Thunder beat the Vanke Rays 5-4. Ashleigh Brykaliuk, a former UMD player, had a goal for the Rays.
Brykaliuk is fourth in the CWHL in scoring with 20 points (seven goals and 13 assists). Another UMD alumna, Zoe Hickel of Kunlun, is eighth in the league scoring derby with 17 points (5-12-17). Former Minnesota all-American goalie, Noora Räty of Kunlun, is third in the league in goals-against average (1.86), second in save percentage (.940) and is tied for second with two shutouts. The standings now show Montréal (13-2-0) in the lead with 26 points. Calgary (10-1-1-2) is second with 23 points, one more than Kunlun (11-4-0) and two better than Vanke (10-3-0-1). Markham (6-7-3-2) is in fifth place with 17 points, seven more than Toronto (4-11-1-1). Boston (1-14-0-2) is in last place with four points.
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 with 46 points (30-16-46), just ahead of former North Dakota standouts Michelle Karvinen (17-25-42) and Andrea Dalen (24-14-38,) and UMD alumna Michela Cava (19-19-38). 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 lost to Minnesota, 5-2, last Friday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis and fell, 7-2, at Minnesota Duluth on Saturday. The Whitecaps' next game is at St. Cloud State Jan. 13.
On Jan.1, USA Hockey announced its roster which will compete in the Winter Olympics next month in Korea. That roster also includes 11 former NWHL players, so they will be familiar with the team they face in exhibition games this weekend. The USA Olympic roster is below.
Canada also announced its Olympic roster and it includes nine former and current WCHA players. Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the two rosters.
* -- denotes that player has eligibility remaining
Goaltenders (2): Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; *Maddie Rooney, Minnesota Duluth
Defense (4): 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
Goaltender (1): Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin
Defense (3): Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth; Meaghan Mikkelson, Wisconsin
Forwards (5): *Emily Clark, Wisconsin; Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth; Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin
Here are the WCHA alumnae on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Jan. 1:
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; Kelly Nash, 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; Emmanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth
Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin.
Vanke (China) Rays: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Minnesota Duluth.
*On maternity leave