BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Oct. 5, 2017 – As the puck drops tonight on the 2017-18 National Hockey League (NHL) season, 12 alumni from current Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) member schools are on opening night rosters. These former student-athletes, representing eight WCHA institutions, are playing on 11 different NHL clubs.
"There is nothing quite like the start of a new season for a hockey fan – and it is a singular thrill for a player to line up on a NHL Opening Night," said WCHA President and Men's League Commissioner Bill Robertson. "We are incredibly proud of anyone over the last 65 seasons that has advanced from the WCHA to represent the league, his school and college hockey at the sport's highest professional level. While we look forward to watching the upcoming NHL season, we are even more excited to watch the next generation of pros hone their skills in WCHA rinks each weekend."
The 2014-15 WCHA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Tanner Kero (Michigan Tech) and Colton Parayko (Alaska), are set to continue their NHL careers with the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, respectively. They will be joined by a pair of Minnesota State alumni in veteran David Backes (Boston Bruins) and Tyler Pitlick (Dallas Stars), former Alaska Anchorage forward Jay Beagle (Washington Capitals), one-time Bemidji State blue-liner Brad Hunt (Vegas Golden Knights), Ryan Carpenter (San Jose Sharks) – who completed his four-year Bowling Green career during the Falcons' first WCHA campaign – and, a teammate of Kero's at Tech, Jujhar Khaira (Edmonton Oilers).
The 2017-18 group also features Ferris State legend Chris Kunitz, the only active NHL player with four Stanley Cup titles, who joins the Tampa Bay Lightning after winning back-to-back championships with Pittsburgh. Former Alabama Huntsville goaltender Cam Talbot is back in Edmonton's net after setting the Oilers' single-season record with 42 regular season wins last season. Fellow netminder Chad Johnson (Alaska) is with the Buffalo Sabres, while veteran Bowling Green alumnus Kevin Bieksa will skate with the Anaheim Ducks.
A full list of the 12 current WCHA member institution alumni on 2017-18 NHL opening night rosters follows.
WCHA-affiliated players on 2017-18 NHL Opening Night Rosters
|Player, Pos.||NHL Team||School (Years)|
|Cam Talbot, G||Edmonton Oilers||Alabama Huntsville (2008-10)|
|Jay Beagle, F||Washington Capitals||Alaska Anchorage (2006-07)|
|Chad Johnson, G||Buffalo Sabres||Alaska (2006-09)|
|Colton Parayko, D||St. Louis Blues||Alaska (2013-15)|
|Brad Hunt, D||Vegas Golden Knights||Bemidji State (2009-12)|
|Kevin Bieksa, D||Anaheim Ducks||Bowling Green (2001-04)|
|Ryan Carpenter, F||San Jose Sharks||Bowling Green (2012-14)|
|Chris Kunitz, F||Tampa Bay Lightning||Ferris State (2000-03)|
|Tanner Kero, F||Chicago Blackhawks||Michigan Tech (2012-15)|
|Jujhar Khaira, F||Edmonton Oilers||Michigan Tech (2013)|
|David Backes, F||Boston Bruins||Minnesota State (2004-06)|
|Tyler Pitlick, F||Dallas Stars||Minnesota State (2010)|