The Buffalo Beauts took to the ice on Saturday afternoon for a rematch of March’s Isobel Cup final. In a pregame interview, assistant captain Corinne Buie stated that she’s been looking forward to this matchup all season.
The game also marked defender Sarah Casorso’s last, as the three-year veteran has stepped away mere days after the team said goodbye to her defensive partner, Sarah Edney. Casorso lasted 26:25 into her final tilt before a wrestling match between herself and Madison Packer saw both of the players tossed for fighting. “When I was...skating off there, and saluting the fans, and I looked at my team...I wasn’t rattled yet. But I looked at my team and I stepped off of the ice, and I was like...that was your last second on the ice. I got extremely emotional.”
Sarah Casorso leaves the ice for the final time as a Buffalo Beaut. pic.twitter.com/oiEU2MWAtU— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) January 12, 2019
It was an emotional game all around for the Beauts, who rebounded from the championship loss in dominant fashion with a 5-1 victory. The teams played equally characteristic games - the Riveters scored first when Packer tipped a shot from Courtney Burke past Nicole Hensley. Maddie Elia took just 10 seconds to respond, and it was all Beauts from that point forward. Hayley Scamurra scored her eighth of the year after a great play by Lisa Chesson to draw goaltender Maria Sorokina out of position and send the puck to the goalmouth.
Prior to the third period, Metropolitan lead the game in shots, but with the exception of a ten minute span in the first, Buffalo owned possession. The Beauts won 38 of 61 faceoffs, led by Elia, who went 15-5 at the dot. It was a key component to the axis of the game, as each team had their fair share of power play opportunities; 11 in total. Buffalo’s faceoff domination gave them an advantage on the power play (where they scored three goals) as well as the penalty kill, in which the Riveters failed to score on five opportunities, which included a 5-on-3 for 1:35.
Just 52 seconds into the second period, Scamurra scored her second of the game - this tally came on the power play. Fewer than five minutes later, Julianna Iafallo notched another power play goal, putting Buffalo up 4-1. The goal chased Sorokina from the net, and Katie Fitzgerald came in in relief.
Where the Riveters had been sharp and aware in the first, frequently reading the passing plays of the Beauts, Buffalo’s swarming attack was beginning to take its toll. It certainly didn’t help that Packer was absent for more than half of the game, depriving the team of a player that shoulders a lot of minutes.
The third period may have been Buffalo’s strongest of the game. It took nearly 15 minutes for the Riveters to put a shot on Hensley, with the Beauts controlling play in all aspects. Even an early power play couldn’t help Metropolitan find their groove; the Beauts penalty kill kept the puck out of the zone for much of the two-minute stint. Buffalo had one more power play goal in them, when Kelly Babstock intercepted a clearing attempt and threw the puck back at the net, catching Fitzgerald off guard.
It was a solid all-around game for the Beauts, who completed a 3-1 homestand, outscoring opponents 15-3 over the four game stretch. The team continues to overcome turmoil as the faces of players, coaches, and management shift perpetually. Coach Cody McCormick addressed the changes in defense in a postgame interview with Die by the Blade.
With the departure of Edney and Casorso, the team is carrying only six defenders. An injury to any of the players could drastically affect the Beauts. McCormick was asked about the skeleton crew, and the response from the league. “I think they’re [the league is] just letting things happen they way they are. Obviously, there are some things we’re going to have to address with depth and injuries do happen, so we’re going to get through this by doing what’s best for the team.”
With Casorso stepping away, Jordyn Burns will have an opportunity to step into the lineup for the first time this season. McCormick says she’s game-ready. “She’s absolutely ready for the transition. Her habits in practice and her overall attitude is tremendous. We have a lot of confidence as a group going in - with all of our players. The way that Jordyn Burns conducts herself in practice, and her work ethic - it’s well-welcomed in a game.”
Asked about pairings, McCormick indicated he’d make the assessment after seeing the defense together in practices. The blueliners have been key contributors in Buffalo’s success through December and into the new year, and the team is certainly going to lean on the back end as it battles through the second half of the season.
The Beauts will enjoy a week off before hitting a hard sprint to the playoffs. It’s a tough uphill climb as Boston put some distance between themselves and the Beauts in the standings with a win in Minnesota. The team can’t afford to get caught watching the standings, and will need to focus on winning out if they hope at all to move up before the end of the regular season.
Final: Beauts 5, Riveters 1
Shots on goal Beauts 35 | Pride 25
Beauts Goals: Maddie Elia (1), Hayley Scamurra (2), Julianna Iafallo (1), Kelly Babstock (1)
Pride Goals: Madison Packer (1)
Three stars of the game
- Hayley Scamurra (2G)
- Julianna Iafallo (1G, 1A)
- Maddie Elia (1G, 1A)