As the longest day of the year passes and June wanes into July, Buffalo Beauts general manager Nik Fattey is not resting on his laurels. The Beauts have signed 16 players in 22 days, with no signs of slowing down.
After announcing that goaltender Julia DiTondo, defender Jacquie Greco, and forward Jordan Juron would return to Buffalo’s roster this year, the Beauts are now just one forward and three blueliners shy of a starting lineup.
Of the three recent signees, Greco is the longest-tenured, with two full seasons under her belt. While she’s earned her status as a veteran, she says things are different with the organization heading into year four.
“I think the main difference is that we have a lot of players already signed for this year and most of them currently live in Buffalo,” Greco said. “We are able to get together more and train and skate together through the summer.”
Juron says that access to training and ice time has also improved. “We had a pretty intense training program this summer, and free agency camp was the first time we got onto the ice since a few fun skates after the season ended in March.
“The Pegulas have provided us with every opportunity to be the best off the ice so we can be the best on the ice.”
Juron says she and former Boston University teammate Maddie Elia have teamed up with Hayley Scamurra and former NHL great Peter Scamurra to take part in skills sessions, and has also enjoyed open scrimmages which involve rookie Julia Iafallo, Elia, Scamurra, Corinne Buie, and unsigned Beauts Jordyn Burns and Taylor Accursi.
Greco is taking full advantage of the extra ice time. “It’s more of open ice which is all optional as far as team commitments go. But, it’s a great perk to be able to get on the ice essentially whenever we want. Most of us live or work close to the Harborcenter so it works out nicely.”
Juron joined the team late in the season after her NCAA career came to an end. She’s using the time to get to know her teammates a little better, and working to strike chemistry with the newest Beauts. Iafallo spoke highly of Juron in her free agent camp press conference, mentioning the former Terrier by name, and Juron says the two have played together well, both in camp and in scrimmage sessions. “I’ve done what I can to make it as comfortable as possible for new players like Jules [Iafallo]. We end up on the ice together a lot in summer league, and we really work well with each other.”
The opportunity to play together throughout the summer isn’t exactly standard for the members of the NWHL, and Greco feels lucky to have the access. “It’s exactly where we want to be. It’s definitely easier to train with your teammates who all have the same common goal as you. The level is where you want to be training at so I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’ve been training with each other since the beginning of June and we just started to get more on ice sessions in the past weeks. Skill sessions will start up next week which will get us another opportunity to get together.”
Both Juron and Greco are anxious to get into game action in front of the fans. Greco says the increase in community awareness is incredible, and it’s just the beginning. “A decent amount of people knew about the Beauts before last season, but I would say it’s a complete 180 this year. I think a lot of that has to do with our acquisition with the Pegula’s. It definitely put us on the map and legitimized our sport and this league. I know we still have a long way to go with our sport but I think things are moving in the correct direction for us.”