Beyond the WCHA: Alumni in the Pros and Olympics - October 3`
By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
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Katie Fitzgerald was the top goaltender in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) last season, and she played like it over the weekend when the women's pro league opened its third season.

Each week WCHA.com will offer an update on the former Western Collegiate Hockey Association players playing pro hockey and on games involving the United States and Canada, leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The website will also offer periodic stories on former WCHA players.

Katie Fitzgerald was the top goaltender in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) last season, and she played like it over the weekend when the women's pro league opened its third season.

Fitzgerald, a former St. Cloud State standout, made 30 saves to lead the Metropolitan Riveters to a 4-1 victory over Boston on Saturday. In the NWHL's other game on opening weekend, defending champion Buffalo got 22 stops from former Minnesota star Amanda Leveille and edged Connecticut, 3-2.

Eleven (11) Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) alumni are spending the 2017-18 season playing in the NWHL, while 12 former players are competing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).

Wisconsin has six former players competing in the four-team NWHL, including five on the Riveters, while Minnesota has two alums in the league. Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth have one player apiece in the league.

Minnesota Duluth has eight former players in the CWHL, while Ohio State, Minnesota, Bemidji State and North Dakota each have one player in the seven-team league. Former UMD star Caroline Ouellette, a four-time Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada, is the all-time leading scorer in the CWHL and is one of three former Bulldogs on Montreal.

In the CWHL last weekend, Montreal jumped into first place with 1-0 and 3-2 victories over Markham. Former Ohio State player Laura McIntosh had a goal for Markham on Sunday.

Kunlun Red Star, an expansion team from China, made history and recorded its first victory with a 4-3 victory over Calgary. Noora Räty, Minnesota's former all-American goalie, made 28 saves for Red Star and Zoe Hickel, who played at Minnesota Duluth, had a pair of assists. Kayla Gardner, who played at North Dakota last season, had an assist for Calgary, who won the series finale, 4-1. Räty had 22 saves in Sunday's game, while Hickel and her former UMD teammate, Jessica Wong, each had an assist for Kunlun.

Vanke Rays, the other Chinese team, also split a series. The Rays beat Toronto 3-0 as Ashleigh Brykaliuk, another former Duluth skater, had an assist. Toronto took the series finale, 3-2, despite a pair of assists by Brykaliuk.

The CWHL standings show Montreal (4-0) in first place with eight points, two more than Calgary (3-1) and Markham (3-3). Toronto (2-2) is fourth with four points, followed by the Chinese expansion teams Vanke (1-1) and Kunlun (1-3), which each have two points, and Boston (0-4).

In an exhibition game on the teams' pre-Olympic tour last week, Canada beat the United States 5-1 before 6,289 fans in Boston. Natalie Spooner, the former Ohio State star forward, had two goals for Team Canada and Meghan Mikkelson, a former Wisconsin defenseman, had an assist for Canada. The full box score is here: http://teamusa.usahockey.com/game/show/19298170.

For information and schedule on the Time is Now Tour, which consists of a series of games between the longtime hockey rivals presented by Toyota, visit TheTimeisNowTour.com

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 eight former Minnesota players (Winny Brown, Katie Frischmann, Mira Jalosuo, 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 alumni (Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Tanja Eischenschmid and Amy Menke) and two players from Minnesota Duluth (Demi Crossman and Emma Stauber), and one from Bemidji State (Rachael Kelly).

Here are the WCHA alumni on NWHL and CWHL team rosters, effective Oct. 29:

NWHL (11)

Buffalo: Lisa Chesson, Ohio State; Jordyn Burns, Minnesota; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota.

Connecticut: Meghan Huertas, Minnesota Duluth; Jordan Brickner, Wisconsin.

Metropolitan: Courtney Burke, Wisconsin; Madison Packer, Wisconsin; Erika Lawler, Wisconsin; Jenny Ryan, Wisconsin; Katie Fitzgerald, St. Cloud State.

CWHL (12)

Calgary: Kayla Gardner, North Dakota.

Kunlun (China) Red Star: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Zoe Hickel, Minnesota Duluth; Jessica Wong, Minnesota Duluth; Noora Raty, Minnesota.

Markham: Laura McIntosh, Ohio State; Jenna McParland, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne LaRocque, Minnesota Duluth.

Montreal: Caroline Ouellette, Minnesota Duluth; Emanuelle Blais, Minnesota Duluth; Noemie Marin, Minnesota Duluth. Vanke (China) Rays: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Minnesota Duluth.