On September 15th, the second day of Selection Camp for the Boston Blades, the arena at UMass Boston was quiet. Players were already on the ice when I arrived at 8:45, demonstrating their skating skills before moving onto their stickhandling. Coach Brian McCloskey and Assistant Coach Mike Diamantopoulos (a new addition to the Blades staff) were on the ice, their eyes on the players; GM Krista Patronick watched from the stands. “Every time I watch this group skate, I just feel more and more optimistic about the season to come,” she said.
While thousands gathered at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center downtown to watch a select group of teens get chosen for a chance at their dream career, just next door, a score of women took to the ice at Harborcenter to earn their own shot at stardom — with one scoring a contract after the first full day.
The University of British Columbia’s Sarah Casorso came out of Saturday’s sessions with a one-year, $13,500 deal with the Buffalo Beauts after an impressive showing during skill drills and the Red vs. White scrimmage. The offensive-minded blueliner graduated from UBC in 2015 and had been playing overseas before trying her luck with the NWHL this offseason.
This is part of a regular offseason feature on Watch This spotlighting each of the players on the Buffalo Beauts, who made a surprise run to the Isobel Cup Final in the NWHL’s first season. Check out our Q&As with Kelley Steadman and Brianne McLaughlin as well. We move next to forward Devon Skeats, who came flying out of the gate after missing a month and a half of the season due to visa issues (along with four other players). Skeats was nearly a point-per-game player in her first season (14 points in 15 regular season matches), and her speed and skill nicely balanced her line with Hailey Browne and Kourtney Kunichika. Here’s what she had to say looking back on her first NWHL season:
This is part of a regular offseason feature on Watch This spotlighting each of the players on the Buffalo Beauts, who made a surprise run to the Isobel Cup Final in the NWHL’s first season. For the opening interview with Brianne McLaughlin, click here. Next up is Kelley Steadman, whose name graces a host of firsts for the franchise (including first goal scored) and finished her season leading the team in scoring and being in the top five in the league with 20 points in 10 games played, 13 of them being goals. The forward was able to answer a few questions looking back at her first season in the NWHL:
This will be part of a regular offseason feature on Watch This spotlighting each of the players on the Buffalo Beauts, who made a surprise run to the Isobel Cup Final in the NWHL’s first season. Opening up the feature is Brianne McLaughlin, who was the first NWHLer to sign with the Beauts. She backstopped them to some real success this year, finishing with a .907% save percentage in 14 regular season starts and a .914% save percentage in the playoffs, along with an All-Star appearance. I had the chance to chat with her about her season and how she felt everything went.
Did you know Minnesota has a professional basketball team? It’s true, one whole team. They’re based in Minneapolis, they’re called the Lynx, and I have a half season package to see them 8 times this year! So should you, because summer without hockey is hard, and there’s no way you have anything better to do with your time than watch Maya Moore own everyone on the court.
The first-ever Isobel Cup went to the top-ranked Boston Pride, who beat the upstart Buffalo Beauts in Game Two 3-1 Saturday evening at the Hockey House at the Prudential Center in Newark.
As expected, Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker led the way, with Decker scoring three points (two goals, one assist) en route to earning the MVP trophy for best player in the series. Knight also tallied a goal and an assist.
Although the Pride got on the board fairly early, with Decker’s first goal coming at 11:55 of the first period, the Beauts were able to hold off Boston’s offense for much of the game, mostly on the weight of a stellar performance from Brianne McLaughlin (30 saves).
The first overtime result in the history of the NWHL’s postseason came under interesting circumstances, to say the least.
With the Buffalo Beauts called for a penalty in their goaltender’s crease, it was left to one of the best current players in the game to deliver for her team — and Hilary Knight made no mistake.
The Pride forward came in close with speed, going glove side on Brianne McLaughlin to lift the Boston Pride over the Beauts, 4-3 in overtime in a wild finish to Game One of the Isobel Cup Finals at the New Jersey Devils Hockey House at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Game One of the Isobel Cup had what some might call the expected results, with both higher seeds — No. 1 Boston Pride and No. 2 Connecticut Whale — pulling out wins on their home ice.
Whale 3, Beauts 0: The Buffalo Beauts threw 35 shots at Jaimie Leonoff, but none found the back of the net as the Connecticut Whale goaltender earned herself the first shutout in her team’s history, 3-0, at Chelsea Piers CT in Game One of the Isobel Cup semifinals.
The inaugural Isobel Cup playoffs begin Friday, and they feature a matchup made for this kind of situation — the third-seeded Buffalo Beauts against second seed Connecticut Whale.
If you’ve been paying attention during this first NWHL season, you’ll have noticed a theme in the series between these two teams. It’s sort of a two-parter.
Part One: Despite the Whale sweeping the season series 6-0, these games have been very tightly played.
Part Two: On the ice, these teams don’t much like each other.