2018 Women’s Hockey Top 25 Under 25 | No. 18 - 15: Haley Skarupa, Sarah Potomak & Lee Stecklein, and Megan Keller

The Ice Garden continues our countdown of the best young players in women’s hockey.

No. 18 - HALEY SKARUPA; Boston Pride

The 24-year-old winger from Rockville, Maryland added an Olympic gold medal to her impressive résumé earlier this year, but she dropped to #18 from last year’s #8 spot on The Ice Garden’s Top 25 Under 25 rankings.

Past Accomplishments

Jen Silber of The Ice Garden provided poignant analysis of Skarupa’s Top-10 rank in the 2017 list. Skarupa is one of the most decorated hockey players in Boston College history. She ranks in the top three all-time leaders of basically every offensive category for one of the most elite collegiate hockey programs in the country. Her prolific talent earned her a (controversial) spot on the 2018 US Women’s National Team for the PyeongChang Olympics over BC teammate and generational talent Alex Carpenter.

Professionally, Skarupa scored 11 goals and tallied 11 assists in 16 games with the Connecticut Whale in 2016-17 before joining the Boston Pride for five games last season where she registered two goals and three assists. She will return to Boston for the upcoming 2018-19 NWHL season.

Future Impact

Skarupa will be an essential component of the Boston Pride returning to their former glory atop the NWHL. She possesses some of the most dynamic offensive abilities in the league and has proven herself to be a consistent and prolific scorer. Playing alongside creative and skilled forwards Dana Trivigno and Jillian Dempsey could provide the offensive punch that was missing for the Pride last season.

Is this ranking too high or too low?

Although her relatively advanced age and limited ice time at the Olympics may have been worthy of criticism regarding her position within the Top 25 Under 25, Skarupa deserves to be closer to her 2017 rank than her 2018 rank.

No. 16 (tie) - SARAH POTOMAK, University of Minnesota

The 20-year-old Canadian did not make the final roster for Team Canada at the 2018 Olympics, but her other accomplishments vaulted her into the #16 spot after debuting on last year’s list at #24.

Past Accomplishments

Mike Murphy examined the rising star’s impressive start to her career in last year’s Top 25 Under 25. Potomak has represented Canada at World Juniors with stunning success. She led the 2017 tournament in points, earning the Best Forward and Most Valuable Player accolades along with winning the gold medal.

In her two years at the University of Minnesota, Potomak has scored 35 goals and 107 points in 76 games. She was awarded the Most Outstanding Player at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Future Impact

Potomak will return the the Golden Gophers for her third collegiate season alongside her younger sister and fellow Canadian star, Amy. Minnesota will be looking for their seventh National Championship and Potomak will spearhead the effort. Internationally, she will be a cornerstone of Team Canada in the years to come as the next wave of elite talent looking to bring gold back to the north.

Is this ranking too high or too low?

Potomak has been an impact player right from the start. Still just 20 years old, the Canadian has a bright future among the best in the world. Her current ranking feels appropriate with plenty of upside to climb the charts in ensuing years.

No. 16 (tie) - LEE STECKLEIN; Minnesota Whitecaps

The 24-year-old Olympian from Minnesota will make her NWHL debut with her hometown Minnesota Whitecaps. Stecklein did not appear on the 2017 Top 25 Under 25.

Past Accomplishments

Stecklein is a stalwart defender who posted 93 points in 157 games during her four years at the University of Minnesota where she won three National Championships. She served as captain of the team in her final season.

She has also represented the United States at two Olympics: 2014 in Sochi, where she won a silver medal, and most recently 2018 in PyeongChang where she won gold. Stecklein led the team in time-on-ice per game, averaging over 22 minutes on the ice against the best players in the world. She has also won four World Championship with the United States.

Future Impact

Stecklein will feature as a premier defender on the Minnesota blueline. Her intelligent play and top-end skill allows her to make an impact in all three zones and at all strengths. The Whitecaps will have a bevy of Olympic talent at their disposal in their inaugural season. Stecklein’s experience and chemistry with her Olympic teammates could prove to be a game-changer as the team hopes to hoist the Isobel Cup.

On the world stage, Stecklein seems to be a lock for the United States in future tournaments. She has gained the trust of the program and proven herself invaluable on the blueline as a versatile and consistent player.

Is this ranking too high or too low?

Stecklein is at the older end of the age spectrum for our list, which can hinder her placement among more exciting young stars with more potential (including the next player on our list). However, the steady blueliner is deserving of praise. This rank feels about right for the Olympic gold medalist.

No. 15 - MEGAN KELLER, Boston College

Last year, Megan Keller ranked #4 in The Ice Garden’s Top 25 Under 25. Surprisingly, the brilliant 22-year-old defender from Farmington, Michigan has dropped to #15 on the 2018 list.

Past Accomplishments

Hannah Bevis wrote about Megan Keller’s illustrious and promising career in last year’s ranking. Keller has dominated the collegiate level in her career at Boston College. She amassed a staggering 115 points in 113 games from the blueline, setting team records, leading college defenders in multiple categories, and being recognized as the Cammi Granato Award winner in her junior year.

Keller has also found success representing her country. On top of her three gold medals at World Championships in which she was a force to be reckoned with, she added an Olympic gold medal to her impressive résumé at the 2018 Olympics.

Future Impact

Keller will return to Boston College for her final season where she has a chance to break more records at the prestigious program. Whether she pursues a professional career, and where that would lead, remains to be seen.

However, Keller is certain to be a mainstay for the United States Women’s National Team for the foreseeable future. Her skill with the puck and knack for racking up points at the highest level cannot be ignored. The future is bright for Keller, wherever she ends up going.

Is this ranking too high or too low?

Keller built upon an already impressive career despite her 22 years of age. Perhaps #4 was a little high last year, but #15 feels too low for the dynamic talent who has already carved out a nice spot for herself on the national team blue line.