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Top Defenders Highlight Final Rounds of 2018 NWHL Draft

By NWHL.zone staff, 12/20/18, 1:30PM EST

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Members of all four Division I women’s hockey conferences and one Division III player were selected in the final three rounds of the 2018 NWHL Draft on Thursday.

While the first two rounds saw mostly forwards come off the board, teams focused on bolstering their defense in the latter rounds, with six defenders and a goaltender drafted.

Additionally, three players from Merrimack were selected in the final three rounds, marking the young program’s first NWHL draft picks.  

In total, Boston College led the way with four picks, while Merrimack, Wisconsin and Colgate each had three.

“Congratulations to the 25 players selected in this year’s NWHL Draft! said Hayley Moore, the league’s deputy commissioner and director of player development. “For those not selected, the journey is not over. There will be many opportunities ahead for free agents. For all players, keep working hard and soak in the moments of your senior seasons.  Cherish your college experience, and look forward to the pros in the future!”

Round 3

11. Courtney Wittig (Riveters), forward, UW Eau Claire, 11-6-17 in 12 games

Wittig: I’m honored to be drafted by the Riveters! This is a dream to be part of the NWHL! Thank you to my Mom & Dad, teammates & coaches. This dream isn’t possible without your support. I look forward to the work ahead to earn the opportunity to take the ice with the Riveter family!”

12. Katelyn Rae (Connecticut), forward, Merrimack, 13-5-18 in 19 games

13. Jessie Eldridge (Buffalo), forward, Colgate, 13-10-23 in 18 games

Eldridge: “I'm honored to be drafted by the @BuffaloBeauts organization and so excited to see what the future holds. I would like to thank the people who have worked tremendously hard to grow the women's game, which has allowed my dream of being drafted to a professional league become a reality."

14. Lauren Boyle (Minnesota) defender, Ohio State, 1-3-4 in 18 games

Boyle: “Growing up in Minnesota, I know the dedicated players and people involved with this organization and their passion for growing the women’s game. I am very honored and humbled to be drafted to play in the NWHL!”

15. Emily Clark (Boston), forward, Wisconsin, 1-6-7 in 19 games

Wisconsin Assistant Coach Jackie Crum on Clark: “Emily is an extremely strong skater and the best two-way center in college hockey. She has the ability to score whenever she touches the puck.”

Round 4

16. Paige Voight (Riveters), forward, Merrimack, 9-3-12 in 19 games

17. Dominique Kremer (Connecticut), defender, Merrimack, 4-8-12 in 19 games

18. Olivia Zafuto (Buffalo), defender, Colgate, 2-10-12 in 17 games

Zafuto: I’ve heard nothing but how great an organization the Beauts are and for me it’s really special because it’s my hometown! Getting to go back home to continue my career playing where it all started is really exciting for me especially knowing how much support I’ll have from my family. It’ll be awesome to compete against some of the best players in the world. Having the opportunity to play at such a high level is really exciting. Seeing how far the NWHL has come since it started, it’s cool to be a part of it and continue to grow the game.”

19. Grace Bizal (Minnesota) defender, Boston College, 2-10-12 in 20 games

20. Lovisa Selander (Boston), goaltender, RPI, 1.94 GAA, .944 SV%

Selander: “I’m extremely honored to be drafted by the Boston Pride. This is an amazing organization and I can’t wait to get started with them next season.”

Round 5

21. Cailey Hutchison (Riveters), forward, Maine, 3-4-7 in 19 games

Hutchison: “Since the start of the NWHL it has been my goal to play for the @Riveters and I am thankful to have this opportunity. I am looking forward to being a part of an organization where I can help grow women’s hockey and inspire young girls to follow their dreams.”

22. Maggie LaGue (Connecticut), defender, Robert Morris, 4-11-15 in 22 games

Head Coach Paul Colontino on LaGue: “We are very excited for Maggie, what a great honor! Maggie's career here at RMU has been outstanding. She continues to grow as a person and player each day. Her skill sets and leadership qualities will be a huge asset for Connecticut and the NWHL."

23. Nicole Schammel (Buffalo), defender, Minnesota, 6-19-25 in 20 games

Minnesota Head Coach Brad Frost: "We are proud of Kelly Pannek and Nicole Schammel. They have proven to be incredible players and they will do great in the NWHL.”

24. Karlie Lund (Minnesota), forward, Princeton, 7-8-15 in 14 games

25. Jenna Rheault (Boston), forward, New Hampshire, 0-0-0 in 19 games

Rheault: "I am so thankful and extremely honored to have been given this opportunity to continue playing the sport I love. I am really excited!”