Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - February 7
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
photo
Minnesota native and former Gophers standout Jordyn Burns returns home for the NWHL All-Star Game, Feb. 11 in St. Paul.

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.

While much of the focus of the hockey world has been diverted to Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Caroline Ouellette stole one last headline before the Games begin for a lot of her former Canadian teammates.

Ouellette, the former Minnesota Duluth star who is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time Clarkson Cup champion, became the all-time goal scorer in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and helped Montréal go into first place with two victories over Boston.

After a brief hiatus in 2017 to give birth to her first child in early November, Ouellette recorded her first goal since her return and the 131st in her career, which moved her past Jayna Hefford for first place in the CWHL's all-time goal scoring history.

Ouellette's milestone goal helped the defending CWHL champs score a 6-0 victory in a game where another ex-Duluth star, Noémie Marin, had a goal and assist, and former UMD standout Emmanuelle Blais chipped in an assist. Marin had three assists in the series finale, when Montréal took a 5-4 victory.

The final weekend in the CWHL prior to the Olympic break saw the top of the standings create separation, while the battle for the fourth and final playoff position cranked up.

With five games left in the season, Markham moved into a tie for fourth place with two victories over Toronto behind the work of former Ohio State standout Laura McIntosh and newly-acquired Megan Bozek. Bozek, the former Minnesota defenseman, and McIntosh each had assists, and Jenna McParland, who played at UMD, had a goal in Markham's 5-2, series-opening victory. Bozek had a goal and two assists, McIntosh added three assists and McParland had a goal and an assist in a 6-2 triumph on Saturday.

In other CWHL action last week, ex-Minnesota Duluth star Zoe Hickel had two assists and Jessica Wong, who also played at UMD, had a helper in Kunlun's 4-2 victory over Boston. The Red Star played without Noora Räty who is one of seven former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) players named to the Finnish Olympic team. The former Minnesota all-American goalie has the league's best goals-against average (1.52) and save percentage (.947), and the most shutouts (four).

Meanwhile, returning to home-ice in Shenzhen, China, the Vanke Rays welcomed the Calgary Inferno for their first international trip across the Pacific during Chinese New Year festivities. Ashleigh Brykaliuk, a former UMD player, had a goal and an assist in Vanke's series-opening, 3-2 victory, but Calgary came back to win 6-2 in the series finale as Kayla Gardner, who played at North Dakota, scored a goal for the Inferno.

With two games left before the Olympic break, defending champion Montréal (19-3-0) leads the CWHL with 38 points, four more than Kunlun (17-4-0) and eight more than Calgary (13-3-1-3). Vanke (12-10-0-1) and Markham (9-7-4-3) are tied for fourth place with 25 points. Toronto (7-16-1-1) is in sixth place with 16 points, while Boston (1-18-0-3) is in last place with five points.

Hickel is fifth in the league scoring derby with 28 points (six goals, a league-best 22 assists.) Marin is sixth with 26 points (14 goals and 12 assists) and Brykaliuk is eighth in scoring with 25 points (eight goals and 17 assists).

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

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 its all-star teams for the game in St. Paul, Minn. this weekend.

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

Leveille will also take part in the skills competition, which will be held Saturday and include NWHL All-Stars and two members of the Minnesota Whitecaps, the elite team based in the Twin Cities.

The other WCHA alumnae who are NWHL All-Stars include former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald, 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). Here are the details on Sunday's all-star game: http://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/878814?referrer_id=2748687

In the final games before the break, Leveille made 30 saves and Burns had an assist as Buffalo, the defending NWHL champs, handed the Riveters their first loss of the season, a 5-3 decision. Madison Packer, another ex-UW star, had two goals while Burke and Ryan posted assists. Fitzgerald made 22 stops in taking her first loss of the season.

Fitzgerald is the league's best goalie with a 10-1-0 record, a 1.73 goals-against average and .927 save percentage, while Burke is second in scoring with 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) and Ryan is tied for third with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists).

In the NWHL's other game last weekend, Connecticut edged Boston 3-2 as Jordan Brickner, a former Wisconsin player, had a goal for the Whale.

At the NWHL all-star break, the Riveters (11-1-0) have 22 points and remain six points better than Buffalo (8-4-0), which is on a six-game winning streak. Boston (2-6-4) and Connecticut (3-7-2) are tied for third place with eight 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).

There are 37 WCHA alumnae and current players who have arrived in Korea and will start play in the 2018 Winter Olympics this weekend.

The list of WCHA alums 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.