Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey.
As a former Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-3 finalist and an all-American during her collegiate days at Minnesota, Megan Bozek is used to making headlines. She did so again this past week as the regular season of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) winds down.
Bozek, also a former all-Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) blueliner, scored three goals and added an assist to help Markham sweep Calgary 4-1 and 5-1 and keep their playoff hopes alive. Bozek had two goals in the series opener, when former Ohio State star Laura McIntosh had a goal and assist.
Bozek added a goal and an assist and Canadian Olympic silver medal-winner Jocelyne Larocque, a Minnesota Duluth alumna, had a goal in the series finale for Markham, which moved into the fourth and final playoff spot with the sweep. Jenna McParland, another former Bulldog, had a goal and an assist for Markham.
In the other CWHL games last week, Kunlun moved into a tie for first place with Montréal by blanking the defending champions 3-0. Noora Räty, an Olympic bronze medalist with Team Finland in Korea last month, returned to the net and made 17 saves. Former Bemidji State standout Stephanie Anderson had a goal and Zoe Hickel, a UMD alumna, had two assists for Kunlun.
The Red Star also scored a 5-1 victory over Vanke. Räty had 14 saves and Anderson scored another goal for Kunlun.
Toronto swept Boston 4-0 and 3-0 as former Wisconsin star Carolyne Prevost had a goal and an assist in one game and chipped in a helper in the other. Kayla Gardner, a North Dakota alumna, had a goal in the series opener and a goal and an assist in the Sunday victory.
With two games left in the regular season, defending champion Montréal (20-5-1) is tied with Kunlun (20-5-1) at the top of the standings with 41 points, three more than Calgary (17-5-1-3). All three of those teams have qualified for the playoffs. Markham (12-7-4-3) is in fourth place, the last playoff spot, with 31 points, four more than Vanke (13-12-0-1). Toronto (8-17-1-1) is in sixth place with 18 points, while Boston (1-21-0-3) is in last place with five points.
Hickel is fifth in the league scoring derby with 34 points (nine goals and 23 assists.) Montreal's Noémie Marin is seventh with 27 points (16-11) and Vanke's Ashleigh Brykaliuk, another ex-UMD star, is tenth in scoring with 25 points (eight goals and 17 assists). Räty, the ex-Minnesota all-American, has the league's best goals-against average (1.50) and save percentage (.948), and the most shutouts (five).
Another ex-Gopher goalie, Amanda Leveille, and her Buffalo Beauts extended their winning streak to nine games Sunday and beat the Metropolitan Riveters, the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) leaders, for the third-straight time.
Leveille made 35 saves and outdueled former St. Cloud State standout Katie Fitzgerald (22 stops) in a 2-1 goaltending duel. The Beauts, the defending champs, can tie the Riveters for the league title, but the Riveters are the top seed in the playoffs and will host Connecticut March 18 in a playoff semifinal. Former Wisconsin stars Madison Packer and Courtney Burke each had an assist for the Riveters.
In the other NWHL game Sunday, Boston clinched third place with a 3-2 victory over Connecticut and will play at Buffalo in the NWHL semifinals March 17.
With one game left in the regular season, the Riveters (12-3-0) have 24 points, just two points better than Buffalo (11-4-0). Boston (4-7-4) has 12 points and Connecticut (3-10-2) has eight points.
Fitzgerald is the league's best goalie with an 11-3 record and a 1.92 goals-against average, along with a .917 save percentage and one shutout. Leveille has a .914 save percentage, an 11-3 record and a 2.08 GAA. Burke is second in scoring with 17 points (two goals, 15 assists), while Packer (eight goals, seven assists) and another former Badger, Jenny Ryan, are fourth with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists).
Thirteen WCHA alumnae are spending the 2017-18 season in the NWHL, while another 14 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 has two and Wisconsin, Ohio State, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player apiece.
The Minnesota 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 (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).
Here are the WCHA alumni on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Feb. 25:
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: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emmanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noémie Marin, Minnesota Duluth
Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin.
Vanke (China) Rays: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Minnesota Duluth.