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2021 NWHL Draft Recap: Minnesota Whitecaps

The ‘Caps finished the draft with what could become a franchise blue line, alongside a bulked-up offense and goaltending pipeline

Michelle Jay

With their picks in the 2021 NWHL Draft, the Minnesota Whitecaps selected all Minnesota natives and more than half of their picks from the WCHA — so nothing too far out of the ordinary for the league’s westernmost team.

Mak Langei (D), 6th overall from Bemidji State

With their first pick in the draft, the Whitecaps selected Mak Langei from Bemidji State, one of the Beavers’ — and the WCHA’s — most solid and reliable defenders.

Langei was twice named to an all-WCHA team: her freshman season, she was honored with an all-rookie nod alongside WCHA powerhouses like Emma Maltais, Grace Zumwinkle, and teammate Clair DeGeorge. In her sophomore year, Langei was named to the all-WCHA third team after finishing the season with 74 blocked shots.

In 20 games with Bemidji State in 2020-21, Langei registered the most blocks (73) in the WCHA and finished second only to Robert Morris’s Emily Curlett in all of Division I. While the Beavers allowed the most goals in the WCHA this season, the margin between them and St. Cloud State could have been much wider; it’s thanks to players like Langei that it wasn’t.

Tina Kampa (D), 12th overall from Bemidji State

The Whitecaps selected Tina Kampa with their second pick in the draft, a reliable defender who also has some serious offensive upside.

Throughout the course of her career, Kampa registered 33 points from the blue line, including a personal best 13 points (all assists) during her junior season. Five of those assists were primary ones, and four of them came on the powerplay, where Kampa proved herself a valuable playmaker.

In 2020-21, Kampa’s senior season, she finished first in points among Beavers’ blue liners with one goal and five assists over the course of the abbreviated 20-game schedule. Her 57 shot blocks were second only to Langei in the WCHA and had her finishing fourth in all of Division I, making the combination of the two defenders a formidable pair for the Whitecaps should both sign contracts.

Taylor Wente (F), 18th overall from Minnesota

A two-time gold medalist with Team USA’s U18 squad, the Whitecaps’ third selection in Taylor Wente has been a quietly consistent middle-six forward for the Gophers during her collegiate tenure. Many people — myself included — were surprised to see her fall to the bottom of the third round.

In 127 GP with Minnesota — including all 20 games her senior season, one of only 14 Gophers to do so — Wente tallied 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points. During her final year in the maroon and gold, she spent most of her time centering freshmen Audrey Wethington and Josey Dunne, though she also shared top line minutes with the likes of Grace Zumwinkle and Abbey Murphy.

Wente shared on Twitter after her selection that she will not be skating with the Whitecaps in season 7; instead, she has opted to continue her professional career as a sales development representative.

Jenna Brenneman (G), 24th overall from Penn State

A transfer to Penn State from Clarkson, Jenna Brenneman helped build the Nittany Lions into a force to be reckoned with in their conference and has put up very solid numbers despite senior and redshirt senior seasons plagued by injury.

In 2018-2019, Brenneman’s first full season as starter, she finished first in College Hockey America with a 1.74 GAA and second in the conference a SV% of .927. That same season, she tied two Penn State single-season program records with 13 wins and four shutouts. In 2019-20, her numbers dropped slightly, but that can be attributed to a season-ending injury that benched her just two games into the year.

Kendall Williamson (F), 30th overall from Colgate

With the final pick of the draft, the Whitecaps selected Kendall Williamson, a Minnesota native who helped Colgate to the NCAA title game in 2018.

Though Williamson’s career totals only amount to five points (3 G, 2 A) through 107 GP, there are a lot of little things the forward does that can make her successful at the professional level, like her puck-moving ability and her strong net-front presence. The Whitecaps would be lucky to have Williamson as a depth forward who can square off against the likes of Brooke Avery and Mary Parker.

Statistics and data courtesy of EliteProspects and Their Hockey Counts.