Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - January 31
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Caroline Ouellette has been the face of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) since 2008. The former Minnesota Duluth star is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time Clarkson Cup champion.

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.

Caroline Ouellette has been the face of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) since 2008. The former Minnesota Duluth star is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time Clarkson Cup champion.

After a brief hiatus in 2017 to give birth to her first child in early November, Ouellette returned to lineup of Les Canadiennes de Montréal over the weekend to post an assist in each game and lead Montréal to 7-3 and 14-0 victories over the Vanke Rays.

Ouellette, a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) great who currently in the top-ten in all-time NCAA scoring with 229 career points, is a member of the Triple Gold Club as one of only three women to win the Clarkson Cup (the CWHL playoff championship), a gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games, and gold at the IIHF Women's World Championship. She is also one of only five athletes to win gold in four consecutive Olympic Winter Games.

Ouellette, 38, is one goal shy of establishing a new all-time CWHL record for career regular-season goals. She is currently tied for first place with Jayna Hefford (130). She didn't reach the milestone over the weekend in the high-scoring series, but her teammates rolled. Former UMD standout Emmanuelle Blais had a goal in each game and another ex-Duluth star, Noémie Marin, had two assists in each Montréal victory.

In other CWHL action last week, former Minnesota all-American goalie Noora Räty made 17 saves, ex-Minnesota Duluth star Zoe Hickel had a goal and an assist, while Bemidji State alumna Stephanie Anderson chipped in with an assist in Kunlun's 4-2 victory over Boston. Räty is one of seven former WCHA players named to the Finnish Olympic team and will play her in fourth Olympics next month. She has the league's best goals-against average (1.52) and save percentage (.947), along with the most shutouts (four). She has led the Red Star into a first-place tie with Montréal.

In the other CWHL series last weekend, Toronto swept Calgary 5-2 and 3-2. Former Wisconsin star Carolyne Prevost had a goal in the series finale for the Furies.

Kunlun (16-4-0-0) and defending champion Montréal (16-3-0) each have 32 points, five more than Calgary (12-3-1-2). Vanke (11-8-0-1) is in fourth place with 23 points, while Markham (7-7-4-3) is in fifth place with 21 points, five more than Toronto (7-14-1-1). Boston (1-16-0-2) is in last place with four points.

Hickel is fifth in the league scoring derby with 26 points (six goals, a league-best 20 assists.) Ashleigh Brykaliuk, another former UMD player who plays for Vanke, is seventh in scoring with 23 points (seven goals and 16 assists), while Marin is tenth with 17 points (7-10-17).

Eleven WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), while another 14 are playing in the Canadian Women's Hockey 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.

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. Five former WCHA players have been named to NWHL All-Star teams for the game in St. Paul, Minn. next month.

Ex-Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille, the goaltender for the defending champions Buffalo Beauts, has been named the captain for one of the teams at the NWHL All-Star Game, which will be held Feb. 10-11 at TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center, the new practice facility of the Minnesota Wild.

Leveille will also 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.

The other WCHA alumnae who are all-stars include former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald, ex-Wisconsin defenders Jenny Ryan and Courtney Burke, who play for the league-leading Metropolitan Riveters, and Leveille's teammate Lisa Chesson, who played at Ohio State. 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 teams: http://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/878814?referrer_id=2748687

The all-stars continued to shine during league play last weekend. Burke had two assists and Ryan added a helper in the unbeaten Riveters' 3-2 overtime victory over Connecticut. Madison Packer, another ex-UW star, had two goals, including the game-winner. Former Minnesota Duluth standout Meghan Huertas had a goal and an assist for Connecticut.

Fitzgerald is the league's best goalie with a 10-0-0 record, a 1.40 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, while Burke is second in scoring with 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) and Ryan is tied for third with 12 points (three goals, nine assists).

In the NWHL's other game last weekend, Buffalo won its fifth straight game, edging Connecticut in a goaltending battle between Leveille and the other all-star captain, Brittany Ott. The teams played a scoreless tie, with the Beauts winning the shootout, 2-1, on Chesson's game-winning score. Leveille had 25 stops to record her sixth victory of the season. Ott had 47 saves.

The Riveters (11-0-0) have 22 points and remain eight points better than Buffalo (6-4-0). Boston (2-6-3) is in third place with seven points and Connecticut (2-7-2) is in fourth place with six points.

The 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 seven former Minnesota players (Schipper, Katie Frischmann, 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 (Tanja Eischenschmid , Amy Menke and Annelise Rice), two players from Minnesota Duluth (Demi Crossman and Emma Stauber) and two from Bemidji State (Lundquist and Rachael Kelly). The Whitecaps play at Minnesota Duluth this Saturday at AMSOIL Arena.

There are 37 WCHA alumnae and current players who have either departed for South Korea or will leave this week for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The list of WCHA alumnae and current players who will compete in the 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.