On September 19, the Buffalo Beauts began the trek to return to a fourth consecutive Isobel Cup championship, in pursuit of being the first team in the league to win the trophy for a second time.
The sounds of training camp rang through the rafters of HarborCenter as the 2018-19 Beauts took the ice as a team for the first time. The practice had a different feel to it than the previous three opening days of camp. There was a different energy in the air - things were moving faster than usual.
Head coach Ric Seiling recognized the shift. “Every year, we’ve had turnover, and this year is no exception…I’m very happy after this first practice. We try to get them all on the same page, and a lot of them just fell right into it – like they knew what we were doing from last year – and I’m talking about the new players!”
General Manager Nik Fattey was also impressed with the team as he’s put it back together. “They’re all really hard workers. It’s incredible. Kelly Babstock, Dani Cameranesi, Shannon (Szabados), Nicole (Hensley), Blake (Bolden) have joined a team that’s already got (Hayley) Scamurra and (Maddie) Elia…(Corinne) Buie, (Lisa) Chesson; bringing Emily (Pfalzer) back, and local talent like (Jacquie) Greco and (Julia) DiTondo…it’s amazing.”
The energy and the message continued as they players took part in media interviews. Babstock was kinetic while speaking with reporters, and it was an energy she said she could feel on the ice and in the locker room. “The team atmosphere – the coaches, GMs, and players – I feel like I have their support and everyone has my back. It’s going to be an amazing year to have that support system.
She was a presence on the ice, as well. One of only a handful of players to have taken part in each of the league’s four seasons, her veteran leadership was front and center as the team progressed through the slate of drills.
As the most tenured Beaut, Corinne Buie has seen the development of each iteration of the roster since year two. “The excitement’s been building through the summer. There was a core group of girls that have been training together all summer, and we got excited with each signing we’d see. I can’t believe we’re already here – I’m just ready to go.”
Buie stood out in close-space scrimmages. The tenured forward seems determined to increase her shot-rate this season. Since her initial season in Boston, Buie’s shots per game have increased from 2.44 to 3.2 last year. As a top six player, on a team that let loose 28 shots per game, the coaches have to be excited to see this mentality from Buie.
The Beauts boast one of the strongest goaltending duos in hockey, featuring the legendary Shannon Szabados and gold medalist Nicole Hensley. Szabados has also been watching the roster grow. “On paper, it was fun to see throughout the summer, and it was fun to see in person today,” She said. “As a group…impressive.”
The team will have two more practice sessions before the Black and Blue scrimmage takes place on September 22. All of these preseason activities are open to the public.
Fattey confirmed that Buffalo will have at least one more player to be signed. Stay tuned to Die By the Blade for this announcement.