#FormerColonialWatch: Handful of former women’s hockey players set to play in the NWHL


Emilie Harley (left), leah Marino (center) and Anjelica Diffendal (right) were all drafted into the NWHL last night. Former Colonial Morgan Schauer was as well. Photo(s) Credit: Nathan Breisinger

Owen Krepps

Even after the program’s extinction, RMU hockey is still producing success stories with four former players being drafted into the National Women’s Hockey League Tuesday evening. These include Emilie Harley (2nd overall) and Anjelica Diffendal (7th overall) to the Buffalo Beauts, as well as Leah Marino going to the Toronto Six with the 16th overall pick.

Morgan Schauer, who spent two years at RMU before transferring to Long Island University was also drafted to the Metropolitan Riveters with the 29th overall pick.

The NWHL is a six (soon to be seven) team women’s hockey league that is currently the highest level of play for women’s hockey in North America. Last season, they finished their sixth season in two separate locations, Lake Placid and Boston. All games in the NWHL are streamed on Twitch and nine Robert Morris alumni have either played or been drafted into the NWHL.

Despite switching positions from forward to defense, Emilie Harley did not look uncomfortable on the ice at all with RMU. Harley, who grew up not far from Buffalo in Syracuse, tallied 46 total points in her four years at RMU and 36 assists. She was a great complementary player alongside players like Emily Curlett and Lexi Templeman. It will be interesting to see what position Harley will end up playing if she decides to sign in Buffalo.

A Pittsburgh native, Anjelica Diffendal is a perfect finesse player that can play all three forward positions. Her best season came in her junior year as she had nine goals and assists each. Her two-way game is exceptional and on top of it all, she is one of the best characters to have in any locker room. In Buffalo, “Jell” will certainly mesh well with Harley on and off the ice.

A solid makeshift winger, Leah Marino is the third RMU alumni drafted to the Six. Marino has played on a lot of different lines and been overshadowed by some bigger names making her more of a finesse player than a pure goal scorer. Unlike Diffendal and Harley who have played four years at RMU, Marino has only played three tallying a career total of 11 points.

Update (July, 8th 2021): Harley, Diffendal, and Marino have signed their entry-level deals with their respective clubs.

Former stars Brianne McLaughlin and Rebecca Vint passed through the Buffalo Beauts system in the early days of the NWHL. McLaughlin won the Isobel Cup (the NWHL’s equivalent to the Stanley Cup) in 2016-17 with the Beauts as well.

In the late 2010s, Robert Morris emerged as a top team in the College Hockey America Conference (CHA) and the NWHL started to take notice. In 2019, all-time defensive point leader Maggie LaGue was drafted to the Connecticut Whale 22nd overall.

In 2020, the expansion team Toronto Six selected both Jaycee Gebhard (1st overall) and Natalie Marcuzzi (22nd overall), though Gebhard opted to play overseas and Marcuzzi recently left the team due to work commitments.

There are several different routes that former NCAA women’s hockey players have to chose from if they wish to continue their playing career. The NWHL, established in 2015, is looking to become the only stable home for the best women’s hockey players on the planet.