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4 Gophers picked in 1st ever National Women's Hockey League draft

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The newly christened National Women's Hockey League – NWHL – held its first ever collegiate draft Saturday, and four University of Minnesota players were selected.

The NWHL is a brand new professional league with four teams and is set to begin play in October. They are:

  • Boston Pride
  • Buffalo Beauts
  • Connecticut Whale
  • New York Riveters

The league held its inaugural draft Saturday in Boston, with each of the four teams getting five selections.

As for the Gophers drafted:

Forward Hannah Brandt went No. 2 overall to the Connecticut Whale. As a junior last season, the Vadnais Heights native was second in the nation in scoring, and was named WCHA player of the year (among numerous other honors).

Milica McMillen, a senior defenseman from St. Paul, was taken 10th overall, also by the Whale.

The Buffalo Beauts snagged goaltender Amanda Leveille (originally from Ontario) with the 12th pick.

And Maryanne Menefee, the third-leading scorer for the Gophers and a Michigan native, was taken 14th, by the Whale.

One other WCHA player was selected – Courtney Burke, a defensemen at the University of Wisconsin, went fourth overall to the Buffalo Beauts.

The New York Riveters picked Boston College's Alex Carpenter first overall.

How will this work, considering they all still have a year of college left?

NWHL rules say the player has to finish their college career, then can sign with the team that selected her – or choose to opt into free agency and sign with any of the four organizations.

NWHL play starts Oct. 17, and ends in March of 2016. Team will play for the Isobel Cup – named after Lord Stanley's daughter and one of the first women to play hockey, according to a press release.

By the way, Canada already has a countrywide professional league, the Canadian Women's Hockey League, currently with five teams.

On Friday, the CWHL identified the Midwest as a likely market to expand – and earlier rumors reported by ESPNW pegged Minnesota as a likely candidate.

The Western Women's Hockey League, which the Minnesota Whitecaps were a part of, eventually shrunk to two teams by 2012 and play was suspended, the New York Times reported.

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