Seven grueling months after the Buffalo Beauts’ season ended in a 1-0 defeat at the hand of the 2018 Isobel Cup Champion Metropolitan Riveters, the home opener is finally set to take place. The new-look Beauts will take the HarborCenter ice for the first time in the 2018-19 season following a 4-0 drubbing of the Connecticut Whale to open the campaign.
The Beauts return to their home ice after making a huge statement in Connecticut. The team was solid top-to-bottom in the season’s first matchup, and will face the same Whale squad that offered little resistance last weekend. Buffalo outshot Connecticut 38-10 in one of the most complete games in team history. The only negative to be drawn from the game was the 0-for-5 power play mark.
The game was physical, yet disciplined. Fast paced, yet controlled. Offensively and defensively superior in almost every way. Perhaps the most important takeaway is that this team is still growing - still getting used to playing together. Familiar names like Hayley Scamurra (2 goals, 2 assists) and Maddie Elia (2G) provided the goals for the team. Not for a lack of trying, though; NWHL veteran Kelly Babstock unleashed seven shots on goal. Three Beauts - Scamurra, Lisa Chesson, and Savannah Harmon - had five shots each. The latter two are defenders. It was a spectacular showing for the Beauts.
Buffalo will have to play a similar game if they hope to win on home ice Saturday. Discipline will be key - the Beauts’ top performers have a tendency to lose their cool from time to time. Puck movement will be another important aspect of Buffalo’s strategy - Connecticut had 14 blocked shots in the season opener. The Whale are prepared to sacrifice the body to break up the play. We all know how quickly those blocked shots can be turnovers, and those turnovers can lead to breakaway goals.
Which brings up an important point - who will play goal for Buffalo in the second game of the regular season? Coaches Ric Seiling and Craig Muni have gone both ways in this regard - in the Cup winning campaign, netminders Brianne McLaughlin and Amanda Leveille split time en route to the championship. Last year, Leveille played all but 17 minutes in 19 games. Nicole Hensley started game one, and was sharp despite the lack of action in her end, but the legendary Shannon Szabados is surely itching to get her first start in women’s professional hockey after dominating the international game for a generation.
Echoes of the crowd are already resounding throughout the vaunted rafters of the HarborCenter as fans prepare for what is unquestionably one of the most anticipated seasons in Buffalo sports history. House names like Pfalzer, Scamurra, Elia, and Janiga will line up with international superstars like Szabados, Hensley, Bolden, and Cameranesi. Your Buffalo Beauts are on the precipice of another historic season. Be sure you’re there to bear witness.