ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF BUFFALO BEAUTS
The Buffalo Beauts are the only team in the National Women's Hockey League to have played in the Isobel Cup Final in the league's first three seasons. As the 2018-19 regular season has gotten underway, the Beauts on paper are one of the most talented teams in the league. The star power is simply extraordinary, and it has naturally accentuated Buffalo as a premier destination for women's hockey. Talent alone may be enough to draw hockey fans to the game, but there is so much more that makes a Buffalo Beauts game day experience an opportunity for all to enjoy.
The Beauts open their home schedule on Saturday at 1:30 pm, hosting the Connecticut Whale at HarborCenter. Fans will want to purchase their tickets today to guarantee their place at what will be a memorable home opener. As Minnesota’s hockey fans found out over this past weekend, these games can sell out.
Since purchasing the team shortly in December 2017, Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) has done a tremendous job of creating a #OneBuffalo approach. There is strong support by ownership of all four of their major league sports franchises – the Beauts, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, the NFL's Buffalo Bills, and the NLL's Buffalo Bandits. All four teams readily support one another as family would. PSE's approach has put a professional women's sports team on equal ground – standing shoulder to shoulder – with their male counterparts.
“Buffalo is an amazing city," Beauts defender Blake Bolden, a veteran player but a newcomer to Buffalo, told the media upon her signing with the squad. "The team, the atmosphere, the amenities. I wanted to be a part of it all.”
Olympian Nicole Hensley runs into a fan buying her shirsey in the Sabres Store.
Combine those same Olympians with reigning NWHL Rookie of the Year Hayley Scamurra, and a handful of NCAA Champions like Jordyn Burns and Savannah Harmon, and professional champions like Bolden and Corinne Buie, plus plenty of action and high-energy skill to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
Let’s talk about those seats for a moment. The HarborCenter is the coziest of confines in women's hockey and is a gem of a facility for hockey in general. The way that it is laid out in terms of its seating, there is not a bad spot to sit in the entire house. All spectators are right on top of the action and close enough to see the players’ eyes and facial expressions. Located in the heart of downtown Buffalo, the HarborCenter provides an intimate setting with superb sightlines for all.
A firsthand glimpse is what you'll want to have as well, especially for younger fans who may very well find a hero of their own when attending a game. The more fans that are in attendance, the more the players feed from it. The players are available to the fans to sign autographs and interact after each game. For most adults such interactions between them when they were kids and athletes was slim to none. You were extremely lucky if you met your favorite player. With the Beauts and with the other four NWHL teams, the players love meeting their fans.
For those still on the fence about taking in a Beauts game at the HarborCenter, know that there is more than meets the eye. While talent and equality are wonderful ideals for a sports team, there are even simpler aspects to attending a Beauts game that make for a memorable experience. Attending one game can also easily get you hooked to attend more.
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games grabbed the attention of even the most casual of hockey fans. Nothing was more exciting than seeing two powerhouse countries with a long history – USA and Canada – square off against one another for the gold medal. After Team USA came away with the gold medal, it left the hockey world hungry for more women's hockey.
Residents of Western New York can attend a Beauts game and experience some of that same magic. There are five Beauts players on the roster with Olympic experience: Goaltenders Shannon Szabados (Canada) and Nicole Hensley (USA), defender Emily Pfalzer (USA), and forward Dani Cameranesi (USA) all played at the PyeongChang Games. Veteran Beauts defender Lisa Chesson earned a silver medal with USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
Of the eight home games in the 2018-19 season, one will actually be played on the home rink of the Buffalo Sabres, the KeyBank Center. The Beauts will take on the Minnesota Whitecaps on Dec. 29, 2018 on the NHL rink. That’s an event hockey fans will not want to miss.
During Buffalo's first home playoff game, a semifinal showdown between them and the Boston Pride on Mar. 17, 2018, the game was played in front of a standing-room-only crowd. As Buffalo took home the victory 3-2 in overtime on a Sarah Casorso tally, fans at the HarborCenter marveled over how much fun they had.
This is hockey. This is the hockey community. It is what the NWHL and the Buffalo Beauts are all about. Welcome to "The City of Good Neighbors."