Women's hockey inks five during early signing period


Nov. 21, 2012

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's hockey head coach Mark Johnson announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. Melissa Channell (Oakville, Ontario), Sydney McKibbon (Oakville, Ontario), Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ontario), Annie Pankowski (Laguna Hills, Calif.), and Jenny Ryan (Victor, N.Y.) plan to attend the University of Wisconsin and play hockey for the Badgers beginning in the 2013-14 season.

"The thing I like about this class is that they have all had the chance to wear their country's jersey, whether that's part of the U-18 or U-22 programs," Johnson said. "They've been part of that process and they're all very competitive players. They have goals in mind and hopefully we'll be able to help them attain some of those goals."

Mellissa ChannellMelissa Channell
From Oakville, Ontario, Channell is a 5-4 defenseman currently playing with the Burlington Barracudas Junior in the Provincial Women's Hockey League. Channell is an assistant captain for the Barracudas in her second season with the team. Last season, she helped lead her team win the Junior Women's Hockey League U19 Challenge Cup. Prior to playing with Burlington, Channell played with the Little Caesars' U-19 and U-16 teams.

On the international stage, Channell was a part of the Canadian Women's U-22 squad that competed at the 2012 Meco Cup, helping out on the blue line with current and former Badgers Saige Pacholok and Brittany Haverstock. She was invited to the Team Canada U22 camp this past summer with Badgers, Saige Pacholok and Katarina Zgraja. She was also part of the Canadian U-18 team in the 2011 Canada-USA series. Channell also helped the Ontario Red team to a Canadian National Championship title in 2011.

Personal: Parents are Lori and Craig Channell ... shoots left ... father played minor professional hockey in the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League ... intends to major in psychology.

Johnson on Channell:
"Mellissa comes from a hockey family, and her dad is a scout for the Minnesota Wild. She has represented Canada for the U-18 and U-22 teams, and with that are excited to have her international experience on the team. She is a very steady defensive player that has good speed, moves with the puck and sees the ice well."

Why Wisconsin:
"I choose to come to Wisconsin because of the great environment and the great hockey team."


Sydney McKibbonSydney McKibbon
A 5-5 forward from Oakville, Ontario, McKibbon is currently the captain of the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres in the Provincial Women's Hockey League. Through 12 games with Stoney Creek she leads her team in points with eight goals and three assists. Last season, McKibbon also led her team with 41 points off of 12 goals and 29 assists and was also named to the 2012 PWHL All-Star Team. Prior to her time with the Junior Sabres, she spent her freshman year with the Midget AA Sabres.

McKibbon comes to Madison with a wealth of international experience, having played for the Canadian Women's U-18 Team in the 2012 and 2011 Canada-USA series (she was not on the team for the US/Canada series. She was invited to the Team Canada Selection camp in 2011). She also spent time with Team Canada at the IIHF High Performance Women's Hockey Camp in Slovakia in July 2011. Playing in the Canadian National Championships, McKibbon won a bronze medal with Team Ontario Red in 2012 and skated with Team Ontario Blue in 2011.

Personal: Parents are Kerri and Teri McKibbon ... shoots right ... cousin, Matt Bradley, played in the NHL most recently with the Florida Panthers ... cousin, Margot Scharfe, plays for Syracuse ... intends to major in business.

Johnson on McKibbon:
"Sydney is a very intelligent, strong player and she's been a part of Canada's U-18 program. Her and Sarah Nurse are teammates, playing on a line together, and they have done really well. She comes from a great family and we're excited for her to become a part of our team

Why Wisconsin:
"I chose Wisconsin because of the overall atmosphere of the city of Madison and because when I went on my official visit I got that feeling that this was going to be my home for the next four years."


Sarah NurseSarah Nurse
Nurse is a 5-8 forward from Hamilton, Ontario, and is currently an assistant captain with the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres. Through 12 games this season, she is second on the team in points with four goals and six assists. Last year, Nurse was also second on the team in points (37), first in goals (21) and third in assists (16).

She has skated with the Canadian Women's U-18 Team at both the Selection Camp and the Strength and Conditioning Camp in 2011 and 2012. Nurse also participated with Team Canada at the 2011 IIHF High Performance Women's Hockey Camp in Slovakia. At the Canadian National Championships, Nurse won gold in 2011 and bronze in 2012 with Team Ontario Red.

Personal: Parents are Michelle and Roger Nurse ... shoots left ... cousin, Darnell Nurse, currently plays with the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League ... intended major is undecided.

Johnson on Nurse:
"The first thing that comes to mind with Sarah is speed. She is a great skater, very quick and very fast. She also combines her speed with great stick skills and the ability to score. She comes from an athletic family."

Why Wisconsin:
"It is an excellent and well respected university with a stunning campus and an equally impressive hockey program."


Annie PankowskiAnnie Pankowski
Hailing from Laguna Hills, Calif., Pankowski is a 5-9 forward currently playing with the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt. Through 30 games this season, Pankowski leads her team with 65 points (30G, 34A). Last season, she averaged almost a goal per game, scoring 66 goals and tallying 20 assists in 70 games, and helped lead her team to a Junior Women's Hockey League championship. NAHA also won a JWHL championship her sophomore year, as she logged 50 goals and 44 assists in 86 games. Prior to joining NAHA, Pankowski was the team captain of the U-16 AAA Anaheim Lady Ducks. In her freshman year she scored 43 goals and recorded 38 assists helping her team to a third-place finish at the Tier 1 U-16 USA Hockey National Championships.

Pankowski is no stranger to international competition, having skated most recently at the senior women's National Festival in Blaine, Minn., in August. She was a member U.S. U-18 squad that took silver at the 2012 IIHF World Championships, and also skated with the U-18 team in both the 2011 and 2010 Canada-USA series.

Personal: Parents are Diane and Richard Pankowski ... shoots right ... sister, Ali, plays hockey for Princeton ... intended major is undecided.

Johnson on Pankowski:
"Annie is a great student-athlete, she's got remarkable grades. She's represented the U.S. on the U-18 team last year and she's been a proven scorer throughout her career."

Why Wisconsin:
"Wisconsin offers unmatched coaching and hockey facilities."


Jenny RyanJenny Ryan
A 5-4 defenseman from Victor, N.Y., Ryan is currently the team captain for the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt. In 26 games so far this season, Ryan has totaled four goals and 16 assists from the blue line. Last season, she registered 11 goals and 18 assists en route to a league championship. Ryan was an assistant captain her sophomore season as she scored 20 goals and tallied 24 assists, helping her team to a JWHL title.

Ryan was recently selected for the U.S. Women's U-18 Team that will participate in the 2013 IIHF World Championships. She also skated with the U-18 team this past summer in the 2012 Canada-USA series. She has also participated at the U.S. National Festival in 2012, 2010 and 2009.

Personal: Parents are Michael and Joan Ryan ... shoots right ... intends to major in kinesiology.

Johnson on Ryan:
"Jenny is Annie Pankowski's teammate and is a skilled defenseman that moves the puck well, sees the ice well and skates well; she'll be a good addition to our program. She has been a part of the USA select camps since she was 15 years old. She is a strong defensive player one-on-one. When I think of her I see someone that is competitive."

Why Wisconsin:
"I choose Wisconsin because I fell in love with the large campus and the team-spirited atmosphere. The coaching staff is unbelievable and I feel they will help me grow as a hockey player and as an individual. The new facilities are state of the art and I couldn't picture myself anywhere else."

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