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5 U. S. National Team Players Top the 2018 NWHL Draft

By NWHL.zone staff, 12/19/18, 1:30PM EST

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U.S. National Team players Annie Pankowski and Melissa Samoskevich and 2018 Olympics gold-medal winners Megan Keller, Kelly Pannek and Kali Flanagan were the first five selections in the 2018 National Women’s Hockey League Draft.

The NWHL today unveiled the selections in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, with Kendall Cornine, Makenna Newkirk, Loren Gabel, Sophia Shaver, and Bailey Larson rounding out the top ten picks.

“The NWHL Draft is about recognizing the future talent of professional women’s hockey,” said Hayley Moore, the league’s deputy commissioner and director of player development. “It’s been an exciting Fall tracking a number of current seniors and watching their talent shine. We can’t thank the college coaches enough for their communication and for advocating for their players. The players selected today are immensely talented, and we look forward to watching them take the next step in their careers.”

Only players completing their final season of college eligibility were eligible to be drafted by the NWHL teams. Order of selection was determined by the current standings of this season.

The NWHL is announcing the draft picks over two days this week in order to most effectively communicate with the players, their coaches and colleges, and to provide the broader spotlight that the players deserve. The league would like to thank the coaches, players, athletic communications officials and social media executives for their efforts in amplifying the draft.

The 2018 NWHL Draft
(stats are for the 2018-19 college season)

Round 1

1. Annie Pankowski (Riveters), forward, Wisconsin, 14-9-23 in 18 games

Pankowski: “It’s been amazing to watch the NWHL grow and I’m so honored to be drafted as a part of it. It’s inspiring to watch the league continue to grow the game.”

2. Melissa Samoskevich (Connecticut), forward, Quinnipiac, 6-3-9 in 17 games

Whale head coach Ryan Equale: “Melissa is an explosive player that understands the game from both sides of the puck.  She has played and excelled at the highest level of hockey for high school and college and we are excited for what the future holds for Melissa. As a true CT native, Melissa will have the opportunity to continue to be a great role model for the young players in our state and that is a big part of what makes the NWHL so special.”

3.  Megan Keller (Buffalo), defender, Boston College, 9-13-22 in 19 games

4. Kelly Pannek (Minnesota) forward, Minnesota, 11-8-19 in 18 games

5. Kali Flanagan (Boston), defender, Boston College, 1-6-7 in 19 games

Pride Head Coach Paul Mara on Flanagan: “Especially proud to have great New Englanders like Kali know how much we want them as part of the Pride. Kali is an unbelievable skater, all-zone player and Olympic gold medalist.”

Round 2

6. Kendall Cornine (Riveters), forward, RIT, 8-5-13 in 19 games

Cornine: "I'm extremely excited to have been selected by the Metropolitan Riveters to further my playing career in the NWHL. I'm very thankful for my past and current coaches and teammates for helping me get to this point. I'm grateful for the opportunity and look forward to the future.”

7. Makenna Newkirk (Connecticut), forward, Boston College, 7-14-21 in 20 games

8. Loren Gabel (Buffalo), forward, Clarkson, 14-18-32 in 16 games

Gabel: “It is an honour to be drafted by the Buffalo Beauts. This is an amazing organization and I am excited for what the future holds for me as a professional hockey player in the NWHL.” 

9. Sophia Shaver (Minnesota) forward, Wisconsin, 4-5-9 in 20 games

Shaver: “It’s such an honor to be drafted by the Minnesota Whitecaps. I’m so grateful that the growth of women’s hockey led to the addition of a team in my hometown so my childhood dreams of playing professional hockey in front of Minnesota hockey fans is now a reality.”

10. Bailey Larson (Boston), forward, Colgate, 5-8-13 in 18 games

Larson: “This is something I’ve always dreamed about. When I was asked in kindergarten what I was going to be when I grew up, I said a professional hockey player, and it’s indescribable that I have the chance to. I couldn’t have done it without the great teammates and amazing coaches I’ve had at Colgate who have pushed me and helped me become the best person and athlete I can be. And finally I’d just like to thank Coach Mara for giving me this opportunity! I’m excited to be a part of the Boston Pride!”