There are those looking out from their quarantine windows to what they believe to be an arid desert of a sports landscape, but they are missing the oasis that is women’s hockey. The NWHL held its entry draft on April 28 and 29, which means five athletes were selected by the Buffalo Beauts - which included one historic pick.
Despite finishing fourth in the standings, the Beauts had the worst team goals-against in the league, allowing 116 goals in 24 games. At nearly five goals a game, goaltending was one issue the team needed to address, and they did so in the first round. University of Maine netminder Carly Jackson was chosen third overall, following a record-setting career for the Black Bears. Jackson finished with a school-record 10 shutouts to go with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. She made 3,029 saves in her four seasons, tallying 45 wins. Her senior year was her best, with a 1.90 goals against and a .934 save percentage. The Nova Scotia native is the second goaltender to be drafted by the Beauts, and will surely help to boost the backstopping in the coming year.
Northeastern defender Codie Cross was selected in the second round. The two-way star averaged nearly half a point a game through her four years, playing in one of the best conferences in the NCAA. She and her fellow Huskies had earned the top spot in the regular season, and were destined to end up in the Frozen Four, had the tournament played out. Huskies head coach Dave Flint gave fans a glimpse at what they can expect, stating, “The NWHL is getting a dynamic puck handling defenseman who will have an immediate impact in the league.” Combined with the scoring talent of Mary-Jo Pelletier, Buffalo’s blueline will once again be a solid scoring threat.
In the third round, Buffalo had the fourteenth pick, and selected forward Autumn MacDougall from the University of Alberta. While MacDougall is not the first USports athlete in the NWHL, she is the first to be drafted. This historic moment brings the forward to the shores of Lake Erie, following five seasons for the Golden Pandas. MacDougall averaged .90 points per game in her career, however, she had 96 points in 81 games in her final three seasons, which includes 17 goals last year. She led Canada West in scoring twice, won two Canada West championships, and one USports championship in her time with UAlberta.
HISTORY MADE!— UAlberta Golden Bears & Pandas (@BearsandPandas) April 29, 2020
Congrats to @Auttiemac, who has become the first ever @PandasHockey player drafted into the @NWHL!
Autumn was selected with the 14th overall pick in the third round by the @BuffaloBeauts! #BeTheRoar
: https://t.co/MwswdthxfA pic.twitter.com/Sp6O6ppGcb
Buffalo’s next pick was defender Kelly O’Sullivan from DIII juggernaut Adrian College. O’Sullivan is another offensively talented blueliner, contributing 114 points in 119 games in her time with the Bulldogs. The Adrian program produced three players that have joined the NWHL, including Kristin Lewicki. Still, Adrian’s coach says O’Sullivan is the best player to come out of the school, and so it would appear that the team has addressed several issues in the draft, taking four players to shore up the back end.
The Beauts’ final pick in the 2020 draft was RIT defender Logan Land. Land was named captain in her final season with the Tigers, and contributed 16 points in 35 games. Land’s defense improved immensely over her career, and there is little doubt her size and stability will be a welcome addition to the Beauts in the coming season.
It was an important draft for Buffalo, who found themselves bounced from the playoffs for the first time in their history. There is a lot of work to do for the team in the offseason, but they got an excellent jump start with the draft this week. They can now begin signing these draft picks and continue building for the upcoming season.