Weekly Feature



2016-09-28 / Lifestyles

Buffalo Beauts...getting ready for second year in National Women's Hockey League

NICHOLAS KONOTOPSKYJ
Reporter


Buffalo Beauts goalie Brianne McLaughlin gets prepared for the approaching puck at the Buffalo Beauts practice. Buffalo is hoping to improve on a 5-9-4 record from last season. 
Photos by Tim Ludwig. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com. Buffalo Beauts goalie Brianne McLaughlin gets prepared for the approaching puck at the Buffalo Beauts practice. Buffalo is hoping to improve on a 5-9-4 record from last season. Photos by Tim Ludwig. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com. The National Women’s Hockey League had its inaugural season in 2015, and Buffalo is lucky enough to call itself home to one of the four teams in the league.

The Buffalo Beauts, along with the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters, make up this new professional women’s hockey league. The Beauts are getting prepared to start the 2016-17 season, with the home opener set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, against the defending champion Boston Pride.

Last year, the Beauts lost to Boston in that championship series — the Isobel Cup — two games to zero in the best-of-three series. Playing them in the first game of the season is something the team and head coach and general manager Ric Seiling is really excited about. “I’ve kind of coined the phrase ‘unfinished business,’ and that’s our focus for this year,” Seiling said. “I’m convinced that if we would have forced a third game, they [Boston] wouldn’t have been able to stay with us.”


Emily Pfalzer, above, skates on the open ice at a recent Buffalo Beauts practice at the HarborCenter. Emily Pfalzer, above, skates on the open ice at a recent Buffalo Beauts practice at the HarborCenter. Seiling spent 10 years playing in the NHL and was a former first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1977 amateur draft. He has great admiration for women’s hockey and sees the game continue to grow. “It’s very fast-paced hockey and really exciting to watch,” he said. “Some of the things these girls can do with the puck are things I couldn’t do in my playing care er.”

One of the players he is referring to is captain Emily Pfalzer. The 23-year-old defender from Getzville graduated from Boston College in 2015.

As she prepares for her second season with the Beauts, she is focused on team success instead of individual accolades.

“I think losing in the finals left a sour taste in our mouths,” Pfalzer said. “So I think our team is focused coming into this year and ready to go back and win the Isobel Cup.”

That team mentality comes from the head coach, who stresses its importance to his team.

“We do not promote individual play here. It’s all about the team,” Seiling said. “You can’t afford to rely on one or two people. You really have to have a good team atmosphere and support staff.”

Being on the Beauts is a dream come true for Pfalzer. She talked about how being part of a new league like this makes her an inspiration to a younger generation of girls.

“This has been an awesome experience and something I never would have imagined as a young girl,” she said. “It is great because now little kids can dream about playing in a professional women’s league, and I think that’s pretty special. Being from Buffalo and having a team here is really cool.”

Pfalzer has been involved with Team USA hockey since 2010 and was on the team that took gold in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championships. She was also on the women’s teams that took gold in the 2015 and 2016 World Championships. Having this much success playing for her country is great, but there is one last item to check off of her to-do list.

“It’s been a dream come true playing for the national team, but I’m still working towards my biggest dream of playing in the Olympics,” Pfalzer said. “Being able to represent your country is something you never take for granted.”

Her next opportunity will come in the 2018

Winter Olympics in South Kore a.

In 2015, the Buffalo Beauts finished with a record of 5-9-4, but as Seiling likes to point out, they were the victims of many close losses decided by one goal.

“We only won five games last year, but we lost four games in overtime or in a shootout,” he said. “Our coaching staff is always looking for improvement. Every game we battle and show what Buffalo is all about, which is hard work and never giving up.”

Seiling sees improvement with this year’s team, and he feels that the Buffalo community should take notice of the talent on the Beauts roster.

“We’ve had a turnover with our roster through offseason acquisitions and draft picks,” he said. “These are players to watch because very soon some of them will be all over representing Team USA in the Olympics.”

To learn more about the Buffalo Beauts and the NWHL, visit www.nwhl.zone.

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