Any day now, the Buffalo Beauts will announce the start of training camp, and all of the incredible excitement from this summer’s signings will be on one surface, working toward perfect harmony.
This season’s roster is drastically different from the last - which is no surprise; the Beauts have one of the heaviest turnover rates in pro sports. At one point last season, nine former Buffalo Beauts were playing hockey on other teams in North America. A handful of them won their respective NWHL and CWHL championships, too.
This year, though, there is something special about the team as it is put together. Olympic athletes from both sides of the gold medal game have joined some of the NCAA’s best, alongside former Isobel Cup champs...you get the idea. This team is stacked.
Which is the point of this piece. With all of the talent on the roster, how might coaches Ric Seiling and Craig Muni assemble their squad?
One might think this would be an easy call. The Beauts have signed two-time gold medalist Shannon Szabados. They also have 2018 Olympic champ Nicole Hensley, and if somehow things go awry, Julia DiTondo rounds out the trio.
It’s a tough call, but Szabados starts the season and will see the most action, with Hensley playing the infamous Buffalo 1A role. The Beauts have been pursuing the Canadian netminder for two seasons, and that is one of the key indicators that the coaches want her on the ice.
Wow. WOW. W.O.W. Where to begin? Gold medalist Emily Pfalzer headlines a powerful blue line core that also features NCAA champs, NWHL champs, and former CWHL standouts.
The latter is perhaps the most important at this point - Sarah Edney’s 6.97 game score in 2017-18 was the fourth-best seasonal performance by a Beauts defender, and top among those who have not suited up for the national team.
Buffalo also procured the talents of Blake Bolden, which is...just...WOW. Bolden is a game changing player who deserves a look at the national squad, and the Beauts are lucky to have her.
Heading into week one, don’t be surprised if pairs look like this:
Among the league’s leading scorers last season were rookie of the year Hayley Scamura and finalist Maddie Elia. At this time, there has been no indication whether Kourtney Kunichika will join the squad, but there is little question this was Buffalo’s best line in 2017-18.
The towers of power will front a team that includes huge names such as Dani Cameranesi, Kelly Babstock, and rookie Anna Zalewski.
Cameranesi would look fine on Buffalo’s top line in Kunichika’s role as anchor for the two young forwards. Captain Corinne Buie will likely center the second line with Zalewski and former teammate Emily Janiga, with whom Buie had some chemistry in her first year in Buffalo.
That leaves Babstock on the third line, which seems like sacrilege. But...where do you slot her?
Lines could look like this:
It’s a fun puzzle to put together, and the coaching staff is going to have their hands full as they juggle early lines to try to get these top names to gel. It’s a good problem to have, and as coach Seiling reminds the media each year, there are 125 graduating NCAA players each season, and they keep pushing the class before them for skill and talent. Each progressive season brings new face, and a new and impressive skill set.
It won’t be long before fans get to see this squad in action.