Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey. The website will also offer periodic stories on former WCHA players.
Brianna Decker took top individual scoring honors and the former Wisconsin all-American's team, the Boston Pride, ended the regular season as the champions of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL).
However, New York ended Boston's hopes at being the first unbeaten champ by edging the Pride 4-3 in the final game of the regular season Sunday. Boston will host Connecticut Thursday in one NWHL semifinal, while New York plays Buffalo on Friday in New Jersey in the other semifinal. The winners play Sunday at 6 p.m. ET at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. for the Isobel Cup.
In the season finale, former Wisconsin star Madison Packer scored a power play goal at 4:53 of the third period to hand Boston its first loss since Jan. 3, 2016. Former St. Cloud State goalie Katie Fitzgerald made 44 saves for New York. Former Minnesota all-American Amanda Kessel had an assist on the game-winning goal, and another former Gopher, Milica McMillen, added a goal for the Riveters.
Decker and Meghan Duggan, both former Patty Kazmaier Award winners like Kessel, had goals for Boston; and, Hilary Knight, another ex-Badger, had an assist. Decker has a point in an NWHL-record nine-straight games and finished as the league scoring leader with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists).
Decker was second in the league in assists, three better than Kessel. Decker also led the league in goals with one more than Duggan. Fitzgerald finished third in goals-against average (3.01) and save percentage (.901). She was second in shutouts with two.
In the other game over the weekend, Buffalo clinched the third seed with a 4-3 victory over Connecticut.
The final standings had Boston with a 16-1-0 record and 32 points, while New York was 8-7-3 with 19 points. Buffalo finished 6-10-1 with 13 points and Connecticut was 5-12-1 for 11 points.
The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) wrapped up play March 5 when Montreal beat Calgary to win the Clarkson Cup. Nineteen women's hockey alumni are spending the 2016-17 season playing in the CWHL, while 16 former WCHA players are competing in the NWHL.
The Minnesota Whitecaps, an elite women's hockey team made up of post-collegiate players, also has 22 former WCHA players – from seven league schools – on its Minneapolis-based roster. It includes nine former Minnesota players (Rachael Bona, Hannah Brandt, Winny Brown, Katie Frischmann, Mira Jalosuo, Becky Kortum, Meghan Lorence, Chelsey Rosenthal and Kelly Seeler), four North Dakota alumni (Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Tanja Eischenschmid, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando) and four from St. Cloud State (Julie Friend, Carrie Holldorf, Meaghan Pezon and Haylea Schmid), two players from Minnesota Duluth (Jenny Potter, Casey Ambroz and Emma Stauber), and one each from Bemidji State (Stephanie Anderson), Minnesota State (Alli Altmann) and Wisconsin (Alex Rigsby). Seven members of the Whitecaps were on Team USA and won a goal medal at the Four Nations Cup.
Here are the ex-WCHA players currently on professional team rosters, effective Feb.17.
Boston: Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin, Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Hillary Knight, Wisconsin
Buffalo: Megan Bozek, Minnesota; Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.
Connecticut: Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Meghan Huertas, Minnesota Duluth.
New York: Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota; Milica McMillen, Minnesota; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State
Brampton: Laura McIntosh, Ohio State; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth; Kaitlyn Tougas, Bemidji State
Calgary: Sarah Davis, Minnesota; Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin; Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Meghan Mickelson, Wisconsin; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth.
Montreal: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth
Toronto: Carolyne Prevost, Wisconsin; Kelly Terry, Minnesota; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Michela Cava, Minnesota Duluth; Danielle Gagne, Ohio State