PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY
Rookies in the NWHL sometimes go through a challenging adjustment period when playing professionally for the first time. That has not been the case for Buffalo Beauts rookie defender Savannah Harmon. The 23-year-old Illinois native has been an impact player for Buffalo all season long. As she has grown more acclimated to Western New York and the level of NWHL play, Harmon has found that being a Buffalo Beaut is not only what she has dreamed about, but has gone well beyond.
"It has exceeded my expectations," she said about her rookie season. "It's been so much fun. All the girls are so great. Just getting to know them and getting to spend so much time with them around Buffalo -- it's so much fun looking forward to the games each weekend that we get to have them. It's been so great."
This weekend, the Beauts host the Metropolitan Riveters for the first time this season in a 1:30 PM ET tilt on Saturday at HarborCenter. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.
The Beauts possess a very experienced, veteran-laden defense corps, but Harmon has not missed a step - she's skating right with them. If anything, she has been one of the Beauts most consistent defenders regardless of age or professional experience.
"I definitely think you've got to come and play your best every game," Harmon stated when asked what she has learned from her first season. "I think a few games we wish we could have had back and gotten a few of those points. But I think just being ready each time. It's a new league for me, new faces, new style of play from the leagues that I came from. It’s about being ready and being adaptable."
It is not uncommon for a first-year player to take a backseat to a more established veteran. Harmon, however, has played in all 10 of the Beauts regular season games thus far.
"Making sure that I'm being consistent," Harmon said when asked about her focus this season. "Making sure each game, each shift, each period is really consistent; playing my best by taking care of the D-side first, and be able to contribute on the offensive side during the rush if I can; help in the offensive zone if I'm able to, but definitely being consistent and being strong on the D-side."
PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
Harmon is one of four Beauts defenders to have registered a goal this season. She is tied with Emily Pfalzer for the team lead in goals scored by a defender with two tallies each. Harmon's most recent score came during the Beauts 5-0 victory on Jan. 5, 2019 over the Boston Pride.
More often than not Harmon is paired with Beauts veteran defender Lisa Chesson. Working alongside such a steadying partner has been a real treat for Harmon. At 32 years of age, Chesson is nearly 10 years Harmon's senior. Additionally, Chesson is an Olympic silver medalist with the USA Women's National Team from the 2010 Vancouver Games and was a member of the Beauts 2016-17 Isobel Cup-winning squad.
"It's been a lot of fun," Harmon said about being paired-up with Chesson. "We're both pretty calm on the bench. We like to crack a few jokes here and there, but obviously we're pretty serious when we get on the ice. I think we work really well together. It's been great to be able to learn from her and her different strengths that I can pick up on."
Harmon has played in high-stakes hockey before. Keep in mind that she is a two-time NCAA champion with Clarkson University, during her junior (2017) and senior (2018) seasons with the Golden Knights. It is no coincidence that Harmon was a Clarkson co-captain for the first NCAA title, and then captain outright for the second.
She knows how to win and how to win big. Harmon's collegiate experiences and successes are exactly what Buffalo is going to need if they are able to garner a fourth-straight shot at the Isobel Cup.
"The second half of the season is always my favorite part of the season," Harmon shared. "Definitely super excited for that. Finishing the season strong, and having a playoff run hopefully is definitely the best part to get to look forward to."
Harmon's hometown of Downers Grove is located just outside of Chicago, Illinois. Clarkson University is situated in Upstate New York in the town of Potsdam. While Harmon has found a home in both locales, she has just as equally embraced the city of Buffalo. She thoroughly enjoys playing in and residing in Western New York. She also finds herself taking in all of the local flavor.
"Oh, there's a lot," Harmon grinned. "Annika [Zalewski] and I are roommates. We have this list of different coffee shops we want to go to and different places to eat. I think our top place has been Lloyd Taco - we've loved going to there. I think that's probably the top."