More than two dozen hopefuls for the first professional women’s hockey team in Western New York gathered at the Harborcenter in Buffalo Saturday and Sunday to participate in the Buffalo Beauts’ training camp. Saturday’s session was a skills assessment complete with individual and group drills, while Sunday featured a scrimmage.
A sizable crowd turned out to see NCAA standouts and former local stars alike put on a show for a chance to get on the permanent roster, or to snag a practice spot. These players included RIT’s Celeste Brown (one of four former Tigers who attended), sisters and Buffalo natives Annemarie and Brigitte Cellino, and Devon Skeats, an Ontario native who most recently came off of a season spent in Austria. Skeats in particular showed incredible speed in her individual assessment, as well as good hands and a tremendous level of awareness on the ice. Meanwhile, Emily Pfalzer, a former standout at Boston College and a native of Getzville (part of the Town of Amherst 25 minutes outside Buffalo proper), stole the show in the scrimmage, playing well on both sides of the puck.
Two CWHLers also made it to this camp. The Furies’ Tanis Lamoureux (who spent four seasons with Elmira College, just two hours from Buffalo) and Erica Howe of the Brampton Thunder each had decent showings. Two other goalies in the camp (Lauren Dahm of Baldwinsville, who played at Clarkson, and former Colgate Raider Susan Allen) also showed up well against their potential future teammates.
A peculiar roster error showed Jenelle Kohanchuk — yes, she of the Furies and Team Canada — as being at camp. Further evidence on Twitter (including tweets from Kohanchuk herself) proved this false. A Beauts team representative said she apparently registered for the camp but did not attend for reasons unknown as of yet; however, it seems pretty evident from her tweets that she’s staying a Fury for as long as she possibly can.
— Jenelle Kohanchuk (@Kohanchuk19) May 23, 2015
Those who did show up, though, were thrilled at the possibility of joining a team that could well serve as the pioneers of paid, professional American women’s hockey. Brown attended all four camps and is committed to helping the women’s game achieve its true potential.
“My career at RIT was fabulous and I could really not ask for more, but to have this opportunity to play in this new league and to really grow the female sport is an honor, quite frankly,” she said. “To see girls come from all over with a whole bunch of different talents is a lot of fun, and I think we’re going to catch at least the Northeast by surprise right from the start.”
Beauts general manager Linda Mroz, a member of Niagara University’s now-defunct women’s hockey program from 1999-2003, was pleased with the turnout and the caliber of play from her potential new players. Much like Brown and others involved with the NWHL, she sees the new league as paving the way for players in generations still to come.
“I’m like, where was this 10 years ago? I’d have been all over this,” she said. “This is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
“We’re going to be able to push for the girls in high school hockey, travel hockey… the whole of women’s hockey is going to grow, especially here in Buffalo, where there are so many opportunities for girls to play now, and now with the Buffalo Beauts here, their dreams are just going to be over the top.”
(If you’d like to check out videos of the practice, Angelica has several on her Instagram. Check them out!)