For the first time in nearly seven years, there will be playoff hockey in the City of Buffalo. However, unlike in past seasons, it will be the Buffalo Beauts representing our city. As a member of the National Women’s Hockey League, the reigning Isobel Cup champions will host the Boston Pride tonight at 5:30 pm at HARBORCenter and continue their search for a second consecutive Isobel Cup.
Although this meeting will mark their third consecutive in the playoffs, the last two were in the Isobel Cup Final, which both teams have split with Boston winning the inaugural year, and Buffalo returning the favor last year. Similar to their NHL counterparts in the Sabres and Bruins, the Beauts and Pride have an intense rivalry with the hope it will help the league grow into the future.
Perhaps the most intriguing story around the league, besides the Metropolitan Riveters getting off to an 11-0 start to the season, is the Beauts and the winning streak they have built over the last couple of months. Despite a rough start to their season which resulted in a 2-4 record, Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills, acquired the rights to own the Beauts on December 22, 2017. Ever since the transaction was made, the team has gone on a winning streak that has now reached ten straight to finish the 2017-18 regular season.
Perhaps their most impressive wins came near the end of the year when the Beauts played their final three meetings against the Metropolitan Riveters, who finished the season first in the league. In their final home game at HARBORCenter, the Beauts won 5-3 and ended the undefeated season for the Riveters. Buffalo would also win its final two meetings on the road, splitting the season series with Metropolitan, the top team in the NWHL this season.
Led by their captain, Corinne Buie, who earned 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games played in her first season with the “C” on her chest, the team played effective hockey down the stretch throughout their winning streak. Scoring also came frequently for the team, with three leading scorers earning 14 points each. Hayley Scamurra (7 goals, 7 assists), Maddie Elia (5 goals, 9 assists) and Kourtney Kunichika (4 goals, 10 assists) all played a role in helping the Beauts finish their season with a 10-game win streak. As a result of their strong stretch of games, Buffalo finished just one game out of first place to end the season.
Throughout the year, the Beauts were also efficient between the pipes, as Amanda Leveille, from the University of Minnesota, was solid in net all season long. Starting all 16 games for the Beauts, Leveille compiled an overall record of 12-4, along with a 2.53 goals against average and .918 save percentage in her second season as a member of the Beauts.
In what has been their best season thus far, finishing 12-4 in the regular season and earning a 10-game win streak, the Beauts have put themselves in prime position for winning this weekend and advancing to the Isobel Cup Final for a third straight season. In their matchups against the Pride this year, Buffalo finished with a 4-1 record and look to continue their winning ways in their first-ever home playoff game tonight, set for a 5:30 p.m. puck drop at HARBORCenter.