BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Aug. 28, 2018 – Seven alumnae of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women's League were chosen within the first 28 picks of Sunday's 2018 Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) Draft, including the top two selections (Wisconsin's Lauren Williams and Sarah Nurse) and three of the first four (North Dakota's Halli Krzyzaniak was the fourth overall choice). The group, which also includes UW's Mellissa Channell and Alex Rigsby, along with Minnesota Duluth's Jessica Convery and Catherine Daoust, features a pair of Olympians and three who played collegiately during the 2017-18 season.
"As women's hockey grows and thrives, we are thrilled for these seven WCHA alumnae who have the opportunity to play the sport they love professionally in the CWHL," said WCHA Vice President and Women's League Commissioner Katie Million. "We are tremendously proud that WCHA players continue to have an impact at the sport's highest levels – a testament to their world-class talent, along with the dedication and skill of our league's coaches and programs. I cannot wait for the puck to drop on the CWHL's 11th season!"
Williams was chosen by the Worcester Blades with the first pick of the 2018 CWHL Draft. She wrapped up her collegiate career in 2017-18 as one of Wisconsin's alternate captains, helping the Badgers reach their fifth-consecutive NCAA Frozen Four. The defenseman appeared in all 38 games for the WCHA's regular season champions, posting a career-high 12 points (3g-9a), along with 43 blocked shots and a +21 rating. The three-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete and All-Academic Team member finished her career with a plus-68 rating in 135 games for UW, while tallying 26 points (6g-20a).
Nurse was tabbed by the Toronto Furies with the second overall pick after helping Canada capture a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. A versatile scoring threat, the forward posted back-to-back 25-goal seasons as a junior and senior, while leaving Wisconsin with 76 goals and 61 assists (137 points) in 148 collegiate games. Nurse helped the Badgers to the NCAA Frozen Four in each of her four seasons, while she was a two-time All-WCHA selection, a WCHA All-Rookie Team honoree, a 2017 All-American and Most Outstanding Player at the 2015 WCHA Final Face-Off.
Krzyzaniak was chosen by the Calgary Inferno with the draft's fourth overall selection. Twice voted by her North Dakota teammates to wear the captain's "C," she was a three-time All-WCHA defenseman who played in 139 games (58 points on 14 goals and 44 assists). Most importantly, Krzyzaniak compiled a career plus-54 rating, helping lead UND to 76 wins and a trio of season-ending, national top-10 rankings.
Channell was Toronto's first third-round selection (14th pick overall) after logging 145 games on the Wisconsin blue line between the 2013-14 and 2016-17 seasons. She played a key role for one of the NCAA's top defensive teams during her four years, with an outstanding plus-116 career rating. Channell also tallied 63 points during the Badgers' four-straight runs to the national semifinals, with 10 goals and 53 assists.
Convery, the 19th overall selection, went to Worcester to open the draft's fourth round. A transfer from Mercyhurst, Convery stepped into Minnesota Duluth's starting goaltending role in 2017-18 and ranked second in the WCHA with 816 saves. She guided a young UMD squad to a 15-14-3 record when she was in net, while posting a .920 save percentage, a 2.23 goals-against average and three shutouts.
Rigsby, one of the college game's winningest goaltenders and a 2018 Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, was chosen by Calgary in the fourth round (22nd pick overall). A four-year starter for the Badgers (2011-14), she is tied for second in NCAA history with a UW-record 100 collegiate victories. Rigsby, who also tallied a school-record 3,126 saves, posted a 100-23-8 record in 133 career games, with a .941 save percentage, a 1.50 goals-against average and 30 shutouts.
Daoust, a Québec native, was chosen by the Les Canadiennes de Montréal in the fifth round (28th pick overall). An assistant captain for Minnesota Duluth in 2017-18 and a 4.0 student, she was the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year. Daoust tallied a career-high 13 points (3g-10a) with a team-best 67 blocked shots this past season for the Bulldogs, while the defensive stalwart played in 140 career games at UMD.