Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros - March 20
By Bill Brophy for
Former Minnesota standout Amanda Leveille was named the NWHL's Best Goaltender, while former Wisconsin blueliner Courtney Burke was tabbed the NWHL's Best Defender.

Each week will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.

There will be a decided Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) flavor to the two professional women's championship games that will be held this weekend.

There will be four WCHA alumnae on each team when Markham faces Kunlun on Sunday at 11 a.m. (CDT) in Toronto for the Clarkson Cup, the title game in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).

Fourth-seeded Markham advanced to its first Clarkson Cup appearance since 2012 by sweeping defending champion Montréal, 2-1 and 4-1, in the semifinals. Former Ohio State star Laura McIntosh had an assist for the Thunder in the first game of the best-of-three series, while Emmanuelle Blais had Montréal's lone goal. Minnesota Duluth alumna Jenna McParland scored three goals to finish off the CWHL regular season champions on Saturday.

Kunlun, a first-year CWHL team who was seeded second, beat Calgary 1-0 in three overtimes in the deciding game of their best-of-three semifinal series. Noora Räty, an Olympic bronze medalist with Team Finland in Korea last month, made 66 saves and posted a shutout in the longest game in CWHL history. Alex Carpenter, with an assist from UMD alumna Zoe Hickel, had the game's lone goal. Calgary won the opening game of the series, 3-0, despite 35 saves by Räty, while former Bemidji State standout Stephanie Anderson had a goal and an assist in Kunlun's 3-2 victory in Game Two of the series. Another former UMD star, Jessica Wong, a finalist for defenseman of the year in the CWHL, had three assists for Kunlun and Räty made 38 saves to force the deciding game in the series.

Kunlun won three of the five regular season games with Markham.

Meanwhile in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), the Metropolitan Riveters and Buffalo Beauts, the top two teams during the regular season, will play for the Isobel Cup on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Newark, N.J.

The Riveters, the regular season NWHL champs, continued to get production from former Wisconsin stars and beat Connecticut, 5-0. Madison Packer, who scored a league-high 10 goals during the regular season, had a shorthanded goal and two assists, while ex-Badgers Kelly Nash and Erika Lawler also scored for the Riveters, who have six WCHA alumnae on their roster.

Katie Fitzgerald, a former St. Cloud State standout goaltender, had 12 saves for the Riveters, who will be making their first Isobel Cup title appearance.

Buffalo, the second seed, is the defending league champion and will make its third-straight title game appearance after edging Boston 3-2 in overtime in the other NWHL semifinal.

Amanda Leveille, a former Minnesota goaltender who is one of three WCHA alumnae on the Buffalo roster, made 34 saves in leading the Beauts to their 11th-straight victory. The Riveters and Beauts split six regular season games, with Buffalo winning the last three meetings.

Leveille was named the NWHL's Best Goaltender, while former Wisconsin blueliner Courtney Burke was tabbed Best Defender in season-ending awards, as selected by media:

Leveille, Fitzgerald and Packer were finalists for the NHWL most valuable player, won by league scoring champ Alexa Guschow of Connecticut.

The Athletic took a look at the NWHL's future in this article:

Thirteen WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season in the NWHL while another 15 are playing in the 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, Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth all have one player apiece in the league.

Minnesota Duluth has eight former players in the seven-team CWHL, while Minnesota and Wisconsin have two and Ohio State, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player.

The Minnesota Whitecaps, an elite women's hockey team made up of post-collegiate players, also had 26 former WCHA players – from six schools – on its Minneapolis-based roster in 2017-18. That list included seven former Minnesota players (Kate 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 (Sadie Lundquist and Rachael Kelly).

These are the WCHA alumnae on NWHL and CWHL team rosters:

NWHL (13)

Buffalo: Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.

Connecticut: Meghan Huertas, Minnesota Duluth; Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; Laura Brennan, Minnesota State.

Metropolitan: Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Kelly Nash, Wisconsin, Erika Lawler, Wisconsin; Jenny Ryan, Wisconsin; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State

CWHL (15)

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: Hilary Knight, Wisconsin; Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noémie Marin, Minnesota Duluth.

Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin.

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