Season preview: Beauts in prime position for repeat
The Buffalo Beauts are getting ready for season three, and it’s shaping up to be the most exciting yet.
For the second consecutive year, the team has swayed some of women’s hockey’s biggest names to join them in their campaign.
The defending Isobel Cup champions have wisely spent the summer developing depth, especially on the forward lines. The lack of scoring routinely put the team in a bad position throughout the 2016-17 season, so general manager Ric Seiling and assistant coach Craig Muni identified needs and helped the roster evolve into a veritable scoring machine.
“You almost wish the season would start now,” Muni said in an interview with The Buffalo Star. “Everyone’s excited to see what the team can do on the ice. We know what we have on paper, we just want to see it come together.”
What they’ve assembled, on paper, is a formidable group. The team barely flinched when top forwards Shiann Darkangelo and Emily Janiga left to play in Shenzhen for the CWHL’s newest teams. Muni and Seiling have signed one of the NCAA’s most productive scoring lines, as well as two former CWHL superstars.
BREAKING: Jess Jones has agreed in principle to play for the @BuffaloBeauts! Welcome to the NWHL Jess!
— NWHL (@NWHL) August 31, 2017
Adrian College linemates Kristin Lewicki, Kaylyn Schroka, and Sarah Shureb joined the team in mid-July. The Adrian Trio combined for an incredible 187 points in their senior seasons, and they should certainly continue to produce at the professional level.
Joining them will be an All-Star pair of forwards from the Brampton (now Markham) Thunder. Rebecca Vint scored 27 goals in 43 career games for Brampton, and the Beauts hope she will continue to score at such a pace in Buffalo.
The biggest news of the summer, though, was acquiring CWHL scoring co-champion Jess Jones.
The 27-year old Ontario native has steadily increased her production in her four seasons for Brampton, with the pinnacle being 37 points in 24 games last year. She and international sensation Marie-Philip Poulin shared the scoring title in the CWHL last year, and according to Tyler Fines, who was Jones’ coach last season, the star could easily have found a spot on Hockey Canada’s Olympic roster.
“We’re a lot more solid through three lines, instead of having two solid lines last year,” Muni explained. “We’ll be more comfortable giving our top lines a break. We’re going to have three lines that I’d put out there any time.”
Not only did the Beauts get stronger at forward, but the team has put together the only coaching staff comprised entirely of former NHL players. Muni is himself a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, and both Seiling and newly announced goaltending coach Tom Draper spent time with the Buffalo Sabres.
The move offers stability for goaltender Amanda Leveille, who is about to take the reigns as the full time starter, after splitting time with Brianne McLaughlin last season. Muni says she’s ready. “Amanda has proven she has what it takes. Take the game in the semi-finals against New York – she won that game for us. She stood on her head, and without her, we don’t even get into the finals. We feel that she’ll be able to carry the load.”
Buffalo isn’t the only team that has padded its roster. The Boston Pride has picked up key players from both the New York Riveters and the Connecticut Whale, which will provide Buffalo with some stiff competition in the coming season.
Still, Muni is excited for the opportunity to defend the Cup. “We feel that we’re that much stronger. We’ve got more scoring, and more depth everywhere. I think we can compete with Boston, New York and Connecticut.”
Looking forward, the team will begin training camp very soon, though no date has been set, according to team sources.
This third season promises to be the most exciting yet.
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