Katie Fitzgerald and Amanda Leveille have been the two best netminders in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) for the two best teams all season. Leveille, a former Minnesota star, was named the league's Best Goaltender. Fitzgerald, a standout at St. Cloud State, was the statistical leader in wins, goals-against and save percentage.
Fitzgerald got the last accolade in the battle of former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) stars. She made 28 saves and posted her second shutout in as many NWHL playoff games Sunday, leading the Metropolitan Riveters to a 1-0 victory over Leveille and the defending champion Buffalo Beauts in the Isobel Cup title game before a packed house in Newark, N.J.
Fitzgerald was named the Most Valuable Player of the Isobel Cup Final, as the former Huskies star helped the Riveters become the third different Isobel Cup champion in the three years of the NWHL. Here is a game story on the NWHL title game:
Alexa Gruschow, the NWHL MVP during the regular season, had the game's lone goal against Leveille, who made 17 saves in the goaltending duel.
There were nine former WCHA players who competed in the NWHL title game – three with Buffalo (Ohio State's Lisa Chesson, along with former Gophers Leveille and Jordyn Burns) and six with the Riveters (Fitzgerald was joined by Wisconsin alumnae Madison Packer, Jenny Ryan, Courtney Burke, Kelly Nash and Erika Lawler).
Meanwhile in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) title game in Toronto on Sunday, Markham took an exciting 2-1, overtime victory over Kunlun to win the Clarkson Cup in front of 4,000 fans.
Former Minnesota goaltender Noora Räty, who won a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics last month with Finland, made 37 saves for Kunlun, one of two Chinese expansion teams in the CWHL. Räty was named the league's top goaltender last week. A story on the league award winners is here: http://www.thecwhl.com/stack-rattray-headline-awards-night.
Laura Stacey, a member of Canada's silver medalist in Korea, had the overtime game-winning goal to give Markham its championship. Here is game story from the battle for the Clarkson Cup:
There were eight former WCHA players competing Sunday for the Clarkson Cup, with four league alumnae on each team. Kunlun featured Bemidji State's Stephanie Anderson, former Minnesota Duluth skaters Zoe Hickel and Jessica Wong, along with Räty. Markham's Clarkson Cup-winning team included Minnesota's Megan Bozek, Ohio State alumna Laura McIntosh, and Minnesota Duluth alumnae Jenna McParland and Jocelyne Larocque.
Thirteen WCHA alumnae spent the 2017-18 season in the NWHL, while another 15 played in the CWHL.
Wisconsin had six former WCHA players competing in the four-team NWHL, including five on the Riveters, while Minnesota had two alumnae in the league. Ohio State, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth had one player apiece in the league.
Duluth had eight former players in the seven-team CWHL, while Minnesota and Wisconsin had two and Ohio State, Bemidji State and North Dakota each had 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. It 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 2017-18 NWHL and CWHL team rosters:
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
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.