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NWHL Prospect Pipeline - Whitecaps Draft Pick Pannek Capping Incredible Career at Minnesota

By Reid Nichols, 03/15/19, 2:00PM EDT


Draft Pick Profile - Kelly Pannek (Minnesota Whitecaps, Fourth Overall)


Kelly Pannek is currently a forward playing for the University of Minnesota. Pannek is from Plymouth, Minnesota, and played high school hockey at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School. At Benilde-St. Margaret’s Pannek was a five-time all-conference honoree, four-time Star Tribune all-metro honoree, and two-time all-state honoree. She served as team captain for three years and lead her team to four North Suburban Conference titles and three section runner-up finishes. As a senior, Pannek led Benilde-St. Margaret to a runner-up finish at the 2014 Minnesota Class AA State Tournament. She led all players with 11 points in the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team. During the regular season her senior year, Pannek recorded 34 goals and 54 assists and was named a finalist for the prestigious Minnesota Ms. Hockey award.

Pannek also found success internationally with Team USA. She was a member of the US Women’s National Under-18 Team and earned a silver medal at the 2018 IIHF U-18 Women’s World Championships. Additionally, Pannek competed at the club level with the Minnesota Jr. Whitecaps.

As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Pannek found immediate success. She finished fourth on her team with 44 points and led all rookies in the country in scoring. She also finished eighth out of all skaters in the NCAA with 30 assists and ranked 17th in points-per-game with a 1.07 average. At the end of the season, Pannek was honored with nominations to both the WCHA All-Rookie Team and the All-USCHO Rookie Team. In the playoffs, Pannek continued to score as she had three points in a first-round sweep of Minnesota State and two points in the Frozen Four to help Minnesota win a National Championship.

Pannek continued to improve as a sophomore as she recorded a career-high 49 points to finish fourth on the Gophers. She also led the team in game-winning goals with six. She finished the season with an impressive plus-45 rating and 111 shots on net. Academically, Pannek excelled as she was named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete, WCHA All-Academic, and an Academic All-Big Ten honoree. In the playoffs, she scored a goal in the championship game of the Frozen Four to help Minnesota earn their second consecutive National Championship.

The next season, Pannek set another career high in points with 62 points. This ranked second in the country and first on her team. She also led the country in assists with 43. Of her 19 goals, six of them came on the power play and seven of them were game-winning goals. Additionally, Pannek led Minnesota with 165 shots on net and was second on the team with a plus-39 rating. At the end of the season, Pannek picked up many accolades. She was the WCHA scoring champion and was named to the All-WCHA First Team. Also, she was named a ACHA/CMM Hockey First Team All-American, a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalist, and a member of the All-USCHO First Team. Academically, Pannek was named a WCHA All-Academic and Academic All-Big Ten honoree for the second consecutive year. Pannek was also invited to play with the US Women’s National Team and won a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Last year, Pannek redshirted the season and spent the year training with the US Women’s National Team. She played in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, where she recorded two assists in five games and won a gold medal. Pannek came back to Minnesota this year with the goal of leading Minnesota back to the National Championship as a team captain. Over the weekend, Minnesota lost in the WCHA finals but still earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

During the regular season, Pannek recorded 28 points in 34 games and was named to the All-WCHA Third Team. She will graduate at the end of the school year with a degree in finance and a minor in supply chain management. Last December, Pannek was drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Whitecaps in the NWHL draft.

3 Stars of the Week

3. Kali Flanagan (D), Boston College, Boston Pride (5th overall, 2018)

  • Flanagan recorded three points in two Hockey East playoff games over the weekend. In a 5-1 semifinal win over Boston University, Flanagan dished out two assists. Her first assist came on the power play and ended up being the game-winning goal. She also added a second assist late in the second period to help BC extend their lead. BC lost in the Hockey East finals on Sunday in a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker. However, Flanagan scored a crucial game tying goal with only five seconds left in the game to push the game into overtime. She also finished the game with five shots on net.

2. Nicole Schammel (F), University of Minnesota, Buffalo Beauts (23rd overall, 2018)

  • Similarly to Flanagan, Schammel recorded three points in two WCHA playoff games. On Friday, in a 4-1 semifinal victory against Minnesota-Duluth, Schammel scored two goals and recorded a team-high eight shots on net. Her first goal stood as the game-winner early in the second period. Then, Schammel scored an empty netter in the third period to seal Minnesota’s victory.  Minnesota lost in the WCHA finals the next day against Wisconsin and Schammel assisted on her team’s only goal. The goal came on the power play to close the score to 2-1. However, an empty netter by Wisconsin put the game out of reach for Minnesota.

1. Loren Gabel (F), Clarkson University, Buffalo Beauts (8th overall, 2018)

  • Gabel scored three goals this weekend as Clarkson won the ECAC championship. One of her goals came in a 2-0 semifinal win over Colgate. She opened up the scoring 14 minutes into the game to give Clarkson a lead they never gave up. Gabel also had a team-leading seven shots on net and a plus-minus rating of plus-two. In the finals on Sunday, Gabel scored two more goals to help Clarkson take the win. Her two goals opened up the scoring early in the second period and came just 26 seconds apart. She led her team in shots on net for the second straight game with ten shots.


  • Loren Gabel, a forward for Clarkson University, was named the ECAC Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. She was also named the ECAC Best Forward and a ECAC First Team All-Star. Gabel led the league with 21 goals in 20 league games. Additionally, Gabel was named the Most Outstanding Player in the ECAC playoffs as she scored three goals in Clarkson’s two playoff games this past weekend. She was drafted by the Buffalo Beauts 13th overall in the NWHL Draft.
  • Megan Keller, a defender for Boston College, was awarded the Cammi Granato Award as the Hockey East’s Player of the Year. Additionally, she was named the Hockey East Best Defenseman and a Hockey East First Team All-Star. Keller set a single season conference record for points by a defender with 37 and goals by a defender with 16. The Buffalo Beauts drafted Keller third overall in the 2018 NWHL draft.
  • Annie Pankowski, a forward for Wisconsin, was also named the WCHA Player of the Year. Pankowski leads the WCHA in scoring this year with 43 points. She also has 193 points on her career. She was the first overall draft pick in the NWHL draft in December, selected by the Metropolitan Riveters.
  • Jessie Eldridge was named an ECAC First Team All-Star. She was also a finalist for the ECAC Player of the Year and ECAC Best Forward awards. Eldridge recorded 54 points this season to break Colgate’s single season record. The Buffalo Beauts drafted Eldridge 13th overall in the 2018 NWHL draft.
  • Lovisa Selander was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Year and a ECAC First Team All-Star. Selander recorded 12 wins, a 2.29 goals-against average, and a 0.942 save percentage for RPI this season. She made 1,232 saves, the third most in NCAA Division I history for a single season. Last December, she was drafted by the Boston Pride 20th overall.
  • Maggie LaGue, a defender for Robert Morris was named to the CHA All-Conference First Team and awarded the CHA Individual Sportsmanship Award. She has 92 career points, which is the most in Robert Morris history by a defender and she led all defenders in the nation in power play points with 16 points. The Connecticut Whale drafted LaGue 22nd overall in the 2018 NWHL draft.
  • Lexie Laing, a forward for Harvard, was recognized with an All-Ivy honorable mention. She recorded 10 points in 10 Ivy League games this season. Additionally, she led Harvard overall with 26 total points on the season. Laing was drafted by the Boston Pride 12th overall in the 2017 NWHL draft.
  • Makenna Newkirk, a forward for Boston College was named the Hockey East Best Defensive Forward and was named to the Hockey East honorable mention team. Newkirk is the active leader in Hockey East points with 113 points. Additionally, she led all forwards in the league with 42 blocked shots and finished sixth with a face-off winning percentage of 0.598. She was drafted by the Connecticut Whale 7th overall last December in the NWHL draft.
  • Kali Flanagan, a defender for Boston College, was named to the Hockey East Third Team All-Star squad. She finished the season with 16 points, 41 blocked shots, and a plus-15 rating in conference play. The Boston Pride drafted Flanagan fifth overall in the NWHL draft last December.
  • Katelyn Rae, a forward for Merrimack, was named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star. She finished the season with 40 points and her career with a total of 113 points. Rae was drafted by the Connecticut Whale in the 2018 NWHL draft.
  • Dominique Kremer, a defender for Merrimack, was named a Hockey East Third Team All-Star. She had 19 points on the season and lead Merrimack in blocked shots with 83 blocks. The Connecticut Whale drafted Kremer 17th overall in the 2018 NWHL draft.

Must-See Matchup: Boston College vs. Clarkson

 Last week’s must-see matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin featured an exciting 3-2 Wisconsin victory. Wisconsin opened up the scoring midway through the first period on the power play. However, Ohio State scored with a minute left in the period to tie up the game. Lauren Boyle, a Minnesota Whitecaps draft pick, assisted on the goal. Ohio State then took the lead in the second period on another goal assisted on by Lauren Boyle. The end of the second period featured another last-minute goal as Wisconsin tied up the game as the two teams headed into the second intermission. With just five minutes left in the game, Annie Pankowski, the first overall 2018 NWHL draft pick for the Metropolitan Riveters, scored the game-winning goal to send Wisconsin to the WCHA finals.

This week’s must-see matchup is the NCAA quarterfinal matchup between Boston College and Clarkson. The two teams face off on Saturday, March 16 at 2 pm. Kali Flanagan (Boston Pride), Makenna Newkirk  (Connecticut Whale), and Megan Keller (Buffalo Beauts) will all be fighting to extended BC’s season. Meanwhile, Loren Gabel of Clarkson, a Buffalo Beauts draft pick, will be looking to lead Clarkson back to the Frozen Four. This game will also feature a lot of star power, as Keller and Gabel are two out of the three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.