Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - January 24
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Katie Fitzgerald was named the player of the week in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) after recording 41 saves in back-to-back victories for the unbeaten Metropolitan Riveters (Photo: Troy Parla/NWHL

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.

There will be 37 current and former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women's League players competing in the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeonghang, South Korea after Finland and Switzerland announced their rosters Monday. Six of those Olympians are goalies.

A goalie who will be watching the Olympics and pulling for her former WCHA opponents (and the current SCSU netminder, Swiss Olympian Janine Alder) is Katie Fitzgerald, a former Huskies great who is making headlines of her own.

Fitzgerald was named the player of the week in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) after recording 41 saves in back-to-back victories for the unbeaten Metropolitan Riveters. The former St. Cloud State star had 22 stops in a 5-1 victory over Boston on Saturday and 19 saves in a 2-1 victory on Sunday.

Fitzgerald is the league's best goalie with a 10-0 record, a 1.40 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage for the Riveters, who got a goal in each of their weekend victories from former Wisconsin forward Madison Packer.

In the NWHL's other game last weekend, Buffalo won its fourth straight game, edging Connecticut, 2-1, in a shootout. Ex-Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille, the goaltender for the defending champions, made 31 saves to record her sixth victory of the season.

Leveille has been named the captain for one of the teams at the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game which will be held Feb. 10-11 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul, Minn., the new practice facility of the NHL's Minnesota Wild. Incidentally, in the draft to select the all-star teams Monday night, Leveille chose Fitzgerald with the first overall pick.

Fitzgerald and Leveille will both take part in the skills competition, which will be held Feb. 10 and include NWHL all-stars and two members of the Minnesota Whitecaps, the elite team housed in the Twin Cities with 28 former WCHA players.

Six other former WCHA players – ex-Wisconsin defenders Jenny Ryan and Courtney Burke, who play for the Riveters; former Gopher and Minnesota native Jordyn Burns, her Buffalo Beauts teammate, Ohio State alumna Lisa Chesson; and, two members of the Minnesota Whitecaps (Sadie Lundquist, who played at Bemidji State, and ex-Minnesota standout Kate Schipper) – will also play in the all-star game and skills competition. Here are all the details on the all-star weekend: http://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/878814?referrer_id=2739439

The Riveters (10-0-0) have 20 points and are the runaway NWHL leaders, eight points better than Buffalo (6-4-0). Boston (2-6-2) is in third place with six points and Connecticut (2-7-1) is in fourth place with five points.

Eleven WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season in the NWHL, while another 14 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 Minnesota has two and Wisconsin, Ohio State, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player.

In the CWHL last week, former Minnesota all-American goalie Noora Räty made 27 saves, ex-Minnesota Duluth star Jessica Wong had a goal and an assist, while UMD alumna Zoe Hickel had assists on every goal in Kunlun's 3-2 victory over Markham. On Monday, Räty was one of seven former WCHA players named to the Finnish Olympic team.

Räty, who will play her in fourth Olympics for Finland next month, has the league's best goals-against average (1.59) and save percentage (.946), and the most shutouts (four). She has led Kunlun into a first-place tie in the CWHL with a personal record of 11-3-0.

Kunlun (14-4-0-0) and defending champion Montréal (14-3-0) each have 28 points, one more than Calgary (12-1-1-2). Vanke (11-6-0-1) is in fourth place with 23 points, while Markham (7-7-4-3) is in fifth place with 21 points, nine more than Toronto (5-14-1-1). Boston (1-14-0-2) is in last place with four points.

In the other CWHL series last weekend, Calgary swept Vanke 10-3 and 4-0, while Montréal beat Toronto 7-3 Friday behind three goals from former UMD star Emmanuelle Blais and two goals from another UMD alumna, Noémie Marin. Toronto took the series finale 3-2, despite another goal by Marin.

Ashleigh Brykaliuk, a former UMD player who plays for Vanke, is tied for fourth in the CWHL in scoring with 23 points (seven goals and a league-leading 16 assists). Hickel is also fourth in the league scoring derby with five goals and a league-best 18 assists. Former Wisconsin star Carolyne Prevost of Toronto is tenth with 17 points (7-10-17).

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 who was named to Team Switzerland on Monday, 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 Whitecaps, an elite women's hockey team made up of post-collegiate players, also has 28 former WCHA players – from six schools – on its Minneapolis-based roster. It includes nine former Minnesota players (Schipper, 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 two from Bemidji State (Lundquist and Rachael Kelly).

The list of WCHA alumnae and current players who will compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics is below. Competition begins Feb. 10 in Pyeongchang when Sweden faces Japan at 1:40 a.m. (CST). The U.S. opens round robin play against Finland at 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 11, while Team Canada plays Russia at 6:10 a.m. The gold medal game is scheduled for Feb. 22. NBC will broadcast and stream the games live. Erika Lawler, a former U.S. Olympian who played at Wisconsin, and Tessa Bonhomme, the former Ohio State all-American who won a gold medal for Team Canada, will be part of NBC's coverage.

Team USA includes 14 former and current WCHA players. Team Canada includes nine former and current WCHA players, while Team Finland has seven, Team Sweden features five WCHA alumnae and Team Switzerland has two. Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the rosters.

* -- denotes that player has eligibility remaining

United States

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

Canada

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

Finland

Goalie (2): Noora Räty, Minnesota; Eveliina Suonpää, Minnesota Duluth

Defense (1): Mira Jalosuo, Minnesota

Forwards (4): Michelle Karvinen, North Dakota; Susanna Tapani, North Dakota; Emma Nuutinen, North Dakota; Minnamari Tuominen, Ohio State

Sweden

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

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

Switzerland

Goalie (1): *Janine Alder, St. Cloud State

Forwards (1): Lara Stalder, Minnesota Duluth


Here are the WCHA alumnae on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Jan. 15:

NWHL (12)

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 Statee

CWHL (14)

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: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Laura McIntosh, Ohio State; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth

Montreal: *Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noémie Marin, Minnesota Duluth

Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin.

Vanke (China) Rays: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Minnesota Duluth.

*On maternity leave