Buffalo Beauts Draft Pick Updates!

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.

NCAA Women’s Hockey: Women’s Frozen Four Preview

Minnesota v Wisconsin, an upper Midwest matchup at 5 EST on Friday
Minnesota v Wisconsin, an upper Midwest match-up at 5 EST on Friday (Image copyright Doug Wallick)

It’s time for an NCAA preview by someone who barely follows the NCAA!

I’ll be honest, following the CWHL, plus my other sports loyalties, takes up enough time – and NCAA regular season women’s hockey games aren’t generally streamed in my area. So I come to the Frozen Four with the enthusiasm of a very dumb, uninformed fan. (For good Badger coverage, check out Nicole Haase’s twitter here.) According to the NCAA’s website, the matchups this year are Minnesota-Wisconsin and Clarkson-Mercyhurst. Exciting!

One of the bigger stories this year is Clarkson’s first trip to the Frozen Four. Mind, they won 3-1 over a BC team that was without Carpenter, but it’s still an exciting moment for them. Last year, the semifinals were  Minnesota-BC, and BU-Mercyhurst, with Minnesota and BU advancing to the final. Not so this year.

Minnesota has continued to be dominant this year, even without Noora Räty, Megan Bozek, and Amanda Kessel. That’s not really surprising; their recruitment is outstanding and their team is stacked. They’ll be facing the Badgers in the semifinal. The Badgers sold out LaBahn arena to defeat Harvard and earn a berth in the Frozen Four. You can get a recap of that game here.

Anyway, more educated minds than mine have written plenty about the actual hockey aspects of the Frozen Four. I fully intend to sit on my couch with my laptop and yell SHOOOOOOOT as I watch NCAA hockey. This is your reminder that the Frozen Four WILL be streamed on the NCAA’s website here, and if you’re so inclined, you can watch video of last year’s contests as well. Fun for the whole family!

We will be watching (and tweeting) the Gophers-Badgers game at the very least. We encourage everyone else to tune in, too.