Today was a historic day for the hockey world. The first ever National Women’s Hockey League draft took place in Boston at noon. The Connecticut Whale had the second pick during this year’s draft. They took an interesting approach by loading up their back-end and not taking a single goalie. However, the defensemen and forwards the Whale chose are extremely skilled, smart, and aggressive. It looks as though they want to start things off with a bang.
Who are the historic NWHL draft picks for the Connecticut Whale?
Hannah Brandt – Forward for the Minnesota Gophers
— NWHL (@NWHL) June 20, 2015
Brandt is a force to be reckoned with at Minnesota. With 221 points in 122 games it should be no shock to hear that Brandt was the WCHA’s scoring champions both her sophomore and junior year.
In her first year with the Gophers, Brandt was named the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year. She is also a two-time WCHA Player of the Year and during all three season with the Gophers she earned a spot on the ALL-WCHA First Team Honors.
In 2015, Brandt helped the Gophers win the National Championship. Her strong presence during the tournament led her to receive the award for Most Oustanding Player of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Brandt was on Team USA during their gold medal run in the 2011 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
While she is not the speediest of players, Brandt is a strong presence in front of the net and can handle the puck quite well. Brandt also has the power to swing a game in her team’s favor in one play.
Brandt is definitely one to keep an eye on over the next few season.
Michelle Picard – Defense for the Harvard University Crimson
Picard brings a lot of high pressure experience to the table. She has won an Olympic Silver Medal (Sochi 2014), 2 IIHF World Championship gold medals (Canada 2013, Sweden 2015), and a silver IIHF World Championship medal (United States 2012).
Picard is not an offensive defenseman. However, she is known for her willingness to get aggressive and battle for pucks. Picard’s willingness to sacrifice her body to prevent the opposing team from scoring will be helpful in the Whale’s first few seasons.
Milica McMillen – Defenseman for the Minnesota Gophers
In 111 games with the Gophers McMillen has 35 goals, 57 assists, and 103 blocked shots. Her +/- rating for a defensive player is quite high during her three seasons at Minnesota, with an overall +96.
During McMillen’s freshman year, she scored the game winning goal in the National Championship game against Boston University and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team.
As a sophmore, McMillen proved to the league in that her stellar freshman year was not a fluke. She was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week twice during the 2013-14 season. By the end of the season McMillen was ranked second on the team with 19 points on the power play, tied for 9th out of all-time Gopher players for single-season defense scoring (39 points and 28 assists), had 9 multi-point games, ranked 3rd in the nation among defensemen with 39 points, and was named to AHCA/CCM Second Team All-AMerica and All-WCHA First Team.
McMillen brought her winning attitude into the 2014-15 season and scored 3 goals in the season opener against Penn State. McMillen was named WCHA Defensive Player of the week once but the records and awards still rolled in for her. McMillen yet again had 9 multi-point games. She tied for 5th in the nation and second in the WCHA for scoring among defeseman. Also, McMillen was ranked 7th in the nation and tied for the WCHA lead with seven power play goals.
She was named to the All-WCHA Second Team and WCHA All-Academic Team. Which means not only is McMillen good at hockey, she is also one smart lady.
Maryanne Meneffee – Forward for the Minnesota Gophers
In 113 games with the Gophers, Meneffee tallied 57 goals and 65 assists. During the Gophers 2012-13 National Championship game against Boston University, Meneffee had three assists proving she could handle the pressure of a high profile game.
Meneffee did not disappoint during her sophomore year. She had 8 multi-point games and tied for second on the team with 6 power-play goals. During the Gophers’ 8-3 win over Colgate Meneffee tied her career-high points in a game with 2 goals and 2 assists.
By the end of Menefee’s junior year her name was one that popped directly into your head when referencing the Minnesota Gophers. She had 15 multi-point games and was ranked 12th in the NCAA with 1.21 points per game. Menefee led the Gophers with a shot percentage of .223 and ranked 3rd on the team with 47 points. Menefee ranked 6th in the nation with 6 game-winning goals and assisted the National Championship game-winner over Harvard.
She was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and WCHA All-Academic Team.
Cassandra Poudrier – Defenseman for the Cornell University Big Red
Poudrier is spectacular on the back end. She is not a showy defenseman but definitely gives it her all. The proof is in the 15 goals and 45 assists she has scored in 93 games for the Big Red.
Missing the first few weeks of the 2012-13 season Poudrier felt the need to solidify her place on the team by scoring goals in her first two games. By the end of the season Poudrier had 4 goals and 11 assists earning her the honor of being the top-scoring freshman defenseman at Cornell. She was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week (November 2012) and was on the ECAC Hockey All Rookie Team.
Poudrier did not slow down during her sophomore year. She was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week (March 11, 2014), named on the 3rd Team All-ECAC Hockey Honors, and earned an Ivy League Honorable Mention.
During the 2014-15 season Poudrier turned up the heat and became more aggressive. At the end of the ECAC Hockey Tournament she was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Poudrier’s consistent style of play will help set any goalie’s mind at ease.
Elaine is in her first year writing for The Hockey Writers. She will mostly be covering the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lake Erie Monsters, NWHL, and the charitable works all hockey players partake in.
She just ended a two season internship with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.