Women's Hockey

Three Eagles Selected in First Two Rounds of NWHL Draft

At the start of the 2018-19 season, 17 former Boston College women’s hockey players found themselves on professional rosters throughout North America. On Wednesday, three more lined up spots for next season, with the trio of Megan Keller, Kali Flanagan, and Makenna Newkirk all going in the first two rounds of NWHL Draft.

A year removed from goaltender Katie Burt going first overall to the Boston Pride, the Eagles placed two players in the first round of the five-team draft. Keller went third overall to the Buffalo Beauts, Flanagan followed two picks later when the Pride snagged her, and Newkirk capped the first day by going seventh to the Connecticut Whale.

The trio will accompany 12 other BC alums in the NWHL, including Burt. Flanagan is joining a nearby team well-stocked with former Eagles—the roster includes the likes of Toni Ann Miano, Lexi Bender, and Haley Skarupa. Keller will also have a familiar face in national team teammate Emily Pfalzer on the Beauts.

Seeing the three go in quick succession wasn’t much of a surprise. The players available for the draft were only those who were completing their final season of college eligibility, and BC boasts one of the most talented senior classes in the country. The trio has left a large mark on the program and still has time to finish out with a bang.

Keller, one of five first round picks for the Eagles since the NWHL was founded in 2015, is in the midst of a career-best season. The senior missed the 2017-18 campaign because of Olympic duty and returned in peak form. She’s the highest scoring defenseman in the country, currently boasting 22 points with nine goals and 13 assists at the break. With a point in 15 of her 19 games this season, Keller has been nothing short of reliable.

The fact that Flanagan quickly went off the board after Keller wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, the duo shared the ice in Pyeongchang during the Olympics and returned to the Heights in tandem. The longest-tenured player for BC right now with 138 games under her belt, Flanagan ranks in the top 10 in program history for defenseman in points, goals, and assists.

“I’m especially proud to have great New Englanders like Kali,” Pride head coach Paul Mara told the NWHL. “[They] know how much we want them as part of the Pride. Kali is an unbelievable skater, all-zone player and Olympic gold medalist.”

Newkirk rounded out the selections and will bring a balanced offensive attack to the Whale. One of just five Eagles all-time to reach 150 points, Newkirk has been contributing since her freshman year. A captain for the last two years, she’s currently second on the team in points with seven goals and a team-high 14 assists. Her consistency will be valued at the next level as Newkirk has placed in the top 25 in the country in scoring each year with the Eagles.

While it’s unlikely more players will be selected—Grace Bizal and Serena Sommerfield have had unheralded careers—BC still boasts the most selections through the first day of any school. The Eagles have a reputation for producing top-end talent, and, while BC has had an off year so far, it still has elite talent up and down the roster—a fact that likely won’t change for many years down the line.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor

December 20, 2018