Wisconsin’s Pankowski selected with No. 1 overall pick in 2018 NWHL Draft

Wisconsin Badgers Annie Pankowski (19) handles the puck during an NCAA WCHA Conference women's hockey game against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks Sunday, January 22, 2017, in Madison, Wis. The Badgers won 3-2. (Photo by David Stluka) (David Stluka/David Stluka David Stluka)
Wisconsin’s Annie Pankowski has totaled 14 goals and 23 points in 18 games this season for the Badgers (photo: David Stluka).

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 draft was held Dec. 19-20.

“The NWHL Draft is about recognizing the future talent of professional women’s hockey,” said NWHL deputy commissioner and director of player development Hayley Moore in a statement. “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 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 the 2018-19 NWHL season.

FIRST ROUND
1. Annie Pankowski (Metropolitan Riveters), forward, Wisconsin
2. Melissa Samoskevich (Connecticut Whale), forward, Quinnipiac
3. Megan Keller (Buffalo Beauts), defender, Boston College
4. Kelly Pannek (Minnesota Whitecaps) forward, Minnesota
5. Kali Flanagan (Boston Pride), defender, Boston College

SECOND ROUND
6. Kendall Cornine (Metropolitan), forward, RIT
7. Makenna Newkirk (Connecticut), forward, Boston College
8. Loren Gabel (Buffalo), forward, Clarkson
9. Sophia Shaver (Minnesota) forward, Wisconsin
10. Bailey Larson (Boston), forward, Colgate

THIRD ROUND
11. Courtney Wittig (Metropolitan), forward, Wisconsin-Eau Claire
12. Katelyn Rae (Connecticut), forward, Merrimack
13. Jessie Eldridge (Buffalo), forward, Colgate
14. Lauren Boyle (Minnesota) defender, Ohio State
15. Emily Clark (Boston), forward, Wisconsin

FOURTH ROUND
16. Paige Voight (Metropolitan), forward, Merrimack
17. Dominique Kremer (Connecticut), defender, Merrimack
18. Olivia Zafuto (Buffalo), defender, Colgate
19. Grace Bizal (Minnesota) defender, Boston College
20. Lovisa Selander (Boston), goaltender, Rensselaer

FIFTH ROUND
21. Cailey Hutchison (Metropolitan), forward, Maine
22. Maggie LaGue (Connecticut), defender, Robert Morris
23. Nicole Schammel (Buffalo), defender, Minnesota
24. Karlie Lund (Minnesota), forward, Princeton
25. Jenna Rheault (Boston), forward, New Hampshire

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,” added Moore. “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.”

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