The NWHL season may have just begun, but the NCAA season has been in full swing since late September, which means a host of newly-minted NWHL prospects are taking part in their final seasons of college.
The Buffalo Beauts aimed for balance during the draft in June, opting for three forwards (Sarah Lefort, Emily Janiga, Jenna Dingeldein), a blueliner (Courtney Burke), and a goaltender (Amanda Leveille). As some of them near the two-month mark in their respective seasons, how are Buffalo’s first-ever prospects doing?
(Listed in drafted order)
Courtney Burke, Wisconsin
Burke is thriving on a team that has seen some very big success lately. At 12 points so far (two goals, 10 assists), the blueliner is in a three-way tie with teammates Sydney McKibbon and Jenny Ryan for second in scoring after Annie Pankowski (20 points), and is in a multiple-way tie for 16th nationally in scoring. Outscoring its opponents 55-2, the Badgers took over the No.1 spot from Minnesota this week based on excellent play on both sides of the puck. They’ve seen very little competition in their first eight games, but likely consider their offensive output a warmup for facing tougher opponents, like the Gophers, in early December.
Sarah Lefort, Boston University
So far, the forward has four points for the Terriers (one goal, three assists) in eight games played. She’s currently in Sweden participating with Team Canada in the 4 Nations Cup, which takes place Nov. 4-8. No doubt her hard-working mentality (as attested to by her coach, Brian Durocher) helped get her on the roster, but she’ll also be part of a high-powered offense full of some of the National program’s brightest young stars.
Amanda Leveille, University of Minnesota
Leveille just suffered her first defeat, 4-3 to North Dakota, shortly before the NCAA took a bye week, but is still enjoying a relatively breezy senior season thus far as part of the defending National Champions. Rivaled only by Wisconsin when it comes to offensive firepower, the Gophers have taken nearly every opponent by storm, outscoring them 68-15 (55-11 in conference play), and are 9-1-0 overall (7-1-0 WCHA). Leveille hasn’t had much work in net, but has still been sharp, with a 1.47 GAA and a .921 save percentage through eight starts. That’s good for eighth in the nation right now.
Emily Janiga and Jenna Dingeldein, Mercyhurst
The Lakers got out to a rough start, going 0-5-1 in their first six NCAA matchups, but have begun to right the ship with a sweep of RIT over Halloween weekend in their first taste of play within the College Hockey America conference. Janiga and Dingeldein are tied along with Molly Blasen for fourth in scoring right now with five points apiece, Janiga with four goals, one assist, and Dingeldein with two goals, three assists. However, Janiga’s injury last Friday against RIT has cost her a spot on Team USA for the 4 Nations Cup. Presley Norby of Minnetonka High School (Minn.) has replaced her on the roster. The Lakers play next against Penn State this coming weekend.
The NWHL play resumes Nov. 15.