As the NWHL free agency period came to a close this weekend, 22 women who played their college careers in the NCAA had signed contracts to join the league as rookies. Most of the new class are recent college graduates, but four women -- Lisa Chesson, Anne Schleper, Jordyn Burns, and Kristina LaVoie -- have been out of school for at least a year.
Chesson and Schleper are former Olympians and bring a wealth of experience to the league. The new class also includes two Patty Kazmaier winners -- Amanda Kessel and Alex Capenter -- as well as 13 women who've played in an NCAA National Championship game.
Meet the 2016 NWHL rookies:
Ivana Bilic - D - Bemidji State University - Connecticut Whale
Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Played for Canada’s NDT in the 2016 Nations Cup. Was BSU’s assistant captain and led WCHA defenders with 89 blocks in league play.
Lexi Bender - D - Boston College - Boston Pride
Set a BC record with 154 career games played. Was a Hockey East first-team All-Star her senior year. Was an alternate captain. The Eagles allowed just 1.24 goals per game and were undefeated before losing to Minnesota in the National Championship game.
Courtney Burke - D - University of Wisconsin - New York Riveters
Was a 2016 NCAA Second-team All-American. Team captain. Led all WCHA defensemen in points, points-per game (0.88), and power-play assists (10). Finished her career with 108 points.
Jordyn Burns - D - University of Minnesota (2015) - Buffalo Beauts
Transferred to Minnesota after her freshman season at Syracuse. Saw time at both forward and defense in her three seasons at UM.
Alex Carpenter - F - Boston College - Boston Pride
2015 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner. 2016 Patty Kaz Top Three finalist. 2015 and 2016 First Team All-American. Led the nation in scoring with a program-record 88 points. Left BC as the school’s career leader in points (278), goals (133), assists (145), PPG (26), GWG (27), and plus/minus (+180). Is also the highest-scoring hockey player, man or woman, in Boston College history.
Lisa Chesson - D - Ohio State University (2008) - Buffalo Beauts
2010 Silver Medalist with Team USA in the Vancouver Olympics where she had three goals and three assists. Had 89 career points with the Buckeyes. Played in five Four Nations Cup tournaments and three IIHF Women’s World Championships with Team USA. Had 10 goals and 25 assists in 75 games played with Team USA. Shoots left.
Nicole Connery - D - Quinnipiac University - Connecticut Whale
As a senior, set career highs with 24 assists and 37 points. In her career, scored 42 goals (tied fourth most), and had 60 assists (third most) for 102 points (third most).
Miye D’Oench - F - Harvard - New York Riveters
All-Ivy League second team and All-ECAC Hockey second team her senior season. Ended her career with 122 points. Averaged almost a point per game over her career and is known for her quickness. Led the team in goals and assists as a sophomore.
Alexa Gruschow - F - RPI - New York Riveters
Scored 46 goals and added 47 assists for 93 points. The team's points leader in all four years at RPI. Led the team in shots (115), shots per game (3.38), face-off wins (313), and face-off winning percentage (.503).
Emily Janiga - F - Mercyhurst University - Buffalo Beauts
Was a 2016 co-captain for the Lakers. 2015 CHA Player of the Year and Scoring Champion. Led the CHA in goals (27), points (45), and power-play goals (11) in 2015. At 5’10”, brings both height and strength to the attack.
Kaliya Johnson - D - Boston College - Connecticut Whale
Set career highs in points (17), goals (4) and assists (13). Won silver with in 2012 with the Team USA U-18 team.
Amanda Kessel - F - University of Minnesota - New York Riveters
She’s Amanda freaking Kessel. Silver medal in Sochi. 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner. Best Kessel.
Nicole Kosta - D - Quinnipiac University - Connecticut Whale
Ranks second on the program’s point list with 123 and assists with 84. Scored at least 25 points in each of her four seasons with the Bobcats.
Kristina Lavoie - F - University of New Hampshire (2013) - Buffalo Beauts
Was the Hockey East Rookie of the Year in 2010. Ended her career with 57 goals and 51 assists. At 5’9”, adds height to the Beauts front line.
Amanda Leveille - G - University of Minnesota - Buffalo Beauts
Appeared in seven games and did not allow any goals during the Gophers’ 2012-13 undefeated season. Won three national championships in four years. Allowed just 130 goals in 116 games played, for a career 1.18 goals against average.
Milica McMillen - D - University of Minnesota - New York Riveters
Strong, physical player. Scored 44 goals and 76 assists in her career as a Minnesota. Won three national championships as a Gopher.
Michelle Picard - D - Harvard - New York Riveters
Earned a silver medal with Team USA in Sochi. Played on four World Championship squads, earning three gold medals. Quick two-way defender. Helped lead Harvard to the 2015 national championship game.
Cydney Roessler - D - Quinnipiac University - Connecticut Whale
Was the captain and Coaches Award winner for the Bobcats during her senior season. Led Quinnipiac to the NCAA Tournament and a No. 5 ranking to end the 2015-16 season.
Rebecca Russo - F - Boston University - New York Riveters
Had career-high totals in goals (15), assists (23), and points (38) during her senior season.
Anne Schleper - D - University of Minnesota (2012) - Buffalo Beauts
Joins US National Team defenders Pfalzer and Bozek. Won two national championships at Minnesota. Finished her career as the Gopher record-holder for games played. Second in Gopher history for points by a defender. Was the WCHA Defensive player of the year as a sophomore. Won a silver medal with Team USA in Sochi.
Haley Skarupa - F - Boston College - Connecticut Whale
Won gold medals with Team USA at the last two World Championships. Coming second only to teammate Alex Carpenter, Skarupa broke all of the Eagles' previous marks and ended up ranked second in career points (244), points per game (1.69), assists (129), assits per game (0.90), GWG (23), PPG (25) and plus/minus (+178). 2016 Patty Kazmaier top-ten finalist.
Dana Trivigno - D - Boston College - Connecticut Whale
A small, feisty defender, Trivigno ended her BC career second in penalties (104) and penalty minutes (216). A co-captain her senior year, she tallied 30 assists and had a 61% faceoff percentage. Won gold medals with Team USA at the last two World Championships.