The past two weeks have played host to a whole slew of player commitments to the PWHPA, from graduating NCAA and USports seniors, to players returning to their second year of competition, to some brand new athletes taking the leap and pledging #ForTheGame. We’re here to give you a recap of all the new faces taking the ice next year for the PWHPA.
Micah Zandee-Hart, defender, Cornell University
Micah Zandee-Hart has had a pretty productive four years at Cornell, recording nearly 20 points each season. In 2019-20, she led all Big Red blue liners with 32 points, and came in third among ECAC defenders (behind Cornell teammate and PWHPA commit Jaime Bourbonnais and Clarkson’s Ella Shelton) in terms of offensive production. With several all-Ivy and all-ECAC selections over her tenure with the Big Red, Zandee-Hart’s trophy case is pretty packed. She’s been recognized for her talent beyond the NCAA too — since her debut with the Canadian senior team in 2018, Micah Zandee-Hart has been lauded as a key piece in the future of the Canadian blue line. So far in international play, she’s tallied four helpers and racked up twelve penalty minutes — and while she might not be an offensively productive defender like Canada seems to favor, at 5’9” she’s a force to be reckoned with in the back end.
Jordyn Zacharias, forward, University of Manitoba
With one year in the NCAA at UConn under her belt, Jordyn Zacharias returned to her home city of Winnipeg to enroll at the University of Manitoba. During her first season with UConn, she played on a team with CWHL staples like Elaine Chuli and Annie Bélanger, while going on to post 12 points over only 18 games. Her production picked up after her transfer, where she would average 17 points over four years, including a career high 12 goals and 21 points in her second year in U SPORTS. That same season, she was named a Canada West First Team All-Star and she would assist on Venla Hovi’s title clinching goal in the U SPORTS national championship.
Tess Bracken, defender, Dartmouth College
Tess Bracken will be lacing her skates up and hitting the ice again after her graduation from Dartmouth in 2019, where she registered 34 points over four years with the Big Green. Something must have shifted in the waters for Bracken after her sophomore season, when she more than doubled her offensive production (going from just 5 points over 25 games to 12 points in 19 games) in her final two seasons. This jump earned her the title of the team’s Offensive MVP two years in a row — an honor that’s extremely warranted, considering she led the team’s defenders in goals both years, and led the entire team in points her senior season. While she might not have been a household name for fans of the NCAA, she played a crucial role for a team often sitting at the bottom of the ECAC.
Ryleigh Houston, forward, University of Minnesota Duluth
Ryleigh Houston was an incoming sophomore when the women’s hockey program was cut at North Dakota, but it wasn’t hard for her to find a new home in the NCAA. She made her way east to Minnesota Duluth, where, though her offensive production totals dropped, she’s been a valuable middle six forward. After a 26-point freshman season, she would post upwards of 15 points in her sophomore and junior seasons, and register 14 her senior year with the Bulldogs. Houston has largely been relied on as a depth playmaker, with more than half her points coming as primary assists. In 2015 and 2016, she was selected by Hockey Canada to represent the red and white at the U18 Women’s Worlds, taking home silver at the culmination of each tournament.
Erin Connolly, forward, Boston College
Despite alternating between forward and defense when injuries plagued the Eagles’ blue line, Erin Connolly has been integral to Boston College’s forward depth as a reliable third line center. She averaged a little over thirteen points through her first three seasons, and was on track for much of the same before a season-ending injury cut short her senior campaign. In the 2019 Hockey East semifinals, it was Connolly’s even strength goal that put the final nail in BU’s coffin and sent the Eagles to the conference championship.
In addition to these 2020 graduates, the following players will be returning to the PWHPA for their second season of competition:
- Nicole Anderson, appeared in two showcases
- Shannon Hickey, appeared in two showcases
- Loren Gabel, appeared in four showcases
- Jessica Platt, appeared in two showcases
- Gigi Marvin, appeared in three showcases and at the ECHL All-Star Game
- Erica Kromm, appeared in two showcases
- Marie-Philip Poulin, appeared in five showcases and at the NHL All-Star Game
- Makenna Newkirk, appeared in two showcases
- Megan Bozek, appeared in two showcases
- Lauren Dahm, appeared in two showcases
- Emily Clark, appeared in four showcases
- Nicole Hensley, appeared in two showcases
- Kim Deschênes, appeared in three showcases
- Erin Ambrose, appeared in five showcases
- Mélodie Daoust, appeared in six showcases and at the NHL All-Star Game
- Lee Stecklein, appeared in five showcases and at the NHL All-Star Game
- Amanda Makela, appeared in three showcases
- Ann-Renée Desbiens, appeared in two showcases and at the NHL All-Star Game
- Kendall Coyne Schofield, appeared in five showcases and at the NHL All-Star Game
- Laura Dostaler, appeared in two showcases
- Alexa Gruschow, appeared in four showcases
- Renata Fast, appeared in five showcases
- Shea Tiley, appeared in two showcases
- Kaitlin Willoughby, appeared in two showcases
- Kelly Pannek, appeared in four showcases