Home Blog

CHA Recap: September 29


Syracuse 2 at Post 0 (NC) Box Score / Syracuse RecapIt was a good night for the Syracuse defense as only nine shots reached Syracuse goaltender Allie Kelley in a 2-0 victory over Post … Heidi Knoll found the back of the net twice as Sarah Thompson, Charlotte Hallett, and Rachel Teslak each garnered an assist … Nea Tervonen won a team-high 15 faceoffs and Syracuse won that category 34-17.

RIT 3 at Assumption 2 (NC) Box Score / RIT Recap
RIT outshot Assumption 41-19 as the Tigers picked up a 3-2 win … Junior Sarah Coe had 18 saves in the victory …Junior forward Megan McCormick opened the scoring and senior Nicole Ness scored twice to lead RIT to victory.

(RV/RV) Mercyhurst 1 at St. Lawrence 5 (NC) / Box Score / Mercyhurst Recap
Sophomore Thea Johansson scored the lone Mercyhurst in tonight’s contest …Juniors Vanessa Upson and Kylee Mahoney each won eight faceoffs … Mercyhurst won the blocks category by a 19-10 margin.

All-Session Ticket Packages Are On Sale for 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship

Best Women’s Players in the World Heading To Utica, New York, April 3-14 
UTICA, N.Y. – All-session ticket packages for the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship go on sale to the general public (Sept. 29) at 12 noon ET. Fans can purchase packages by visiting EmpireStateTix.com or by calling the box office at 315-790-9070.

The 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship will take place April 3-14, 2024, at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, N.Y. The tournament features the best players in the world from the U.S., Canada, China, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland.All-session packages give fans access to all 29 games of the tournament, including every playoff and medal-round game.

“With the limited availability, we encourage fans to purchase tickets now,” said Tony Driscoll, assistant executive director of marketing, communications and events for USA Hockey. “It’s not often we get the chance to host a world championship in our country, and between the support of Mohawk Valley Garden, the state of New York, Oneida County, Turning Stone Resort, the city of Utica and many others, fans will be treated to a special experience as we strive to put on the best women’s world championship ever staged.”

The final tournament schedule is set to be released in October. Click here for the official IIHF online home of the championship.

College Hockey America Week 2: The Return of Robert Morris


The Colonials play their first NCAA games in more than two years to headline a full weekend slate

In the News

  • Mercyhurst’s Boucher Joins Century Club: Mercyhurst senior Sara Boucher became the 36th player in College Hockey America history to reach 100 career points when she opened the 2023-24 season with a four-point weekend in the Lakers’ sweep of Post.
  • Boucher tallied her 51st career goal in Saturday’s contest and handed out three assists in the series to reach 50 career helpers. She currently sits in 33rd place on the CHA career points list at 101. Boucher is also the 17th Mercyhurst player to reach the century mark during the Lakers’ CHA era.
  • Coe Registers Two More 30-Save Games: RIT goaltender Sarah Coe turned in 35- and 33-save performances in the Tigers’ season-opening series at RPI Sept. 23-24. The Brooklin, Ont., native turned away 68-of-70 shots in 130 minutes of play to lead RIT to a pair of 1-1 ties with the Engineers. The contests were the 37th and 38th 30+ save games in 56 career outings (66.7 percent) for the Brooklin, Ont., netminder. The percentage and games both lead all active CHA goaltenders.
  • Among goaltenders with at least 1,700 career saves, Coe now ranks No. 6 in CHA history in saves per game at 31.6. Penn State’s Nicole Paniccia holds the CHA record with a 33.8 average. Paniccia stopped 2,469 shots in 73 games with the Nittany Lions.
  • Robert Morris Returns to the Ice: The Robert Morris Colonials will take the ice against an NCAA opponent for the first time in 929 days when RMU faces off with Union on Sept. 29 to open their 2023-24 season. Robert Morris is returning to college hockey two seasons after the men’s and women’s programs were unexpectedly eliminated by the school in 2021 before being reinstated later that year.
  • Logan Bittle, who was the program’s associate head coach when the Colonials ended the 2020-21 season in the NCAA Quarterfinals against Northeastern, will be behind the bench as RMU’s head coach on Friday.
  • Robert Morris will open the home portion of their schedule Oct. 7-8 against St. Anselm. 
  • FloHockey Returns as CHA Streaming Partner: College Hockey America announced a one-year extension to its partnership with FloHockey on Sept. 22. 
  • Every home conference and non-conference game played by CHA programs Lindenwood, Mercyhurst, RIT and Robert Morris – along with every game of the 2024 CHA Postseason will be exclusively streamed live and on-demand on FloHockey.tv. Viewers can watch all the action on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV with the FloSports app and on a desktop or laptop using any web browser.
  • CHA fans can choose between a monthly or yearly subscription to watch all season long. 
  • CHA in the National Rankings: Defending CHA regular season and postseason champion Penn State is up to No. 10 and Mercyhurst received votes in this week’s USAHockey/The Rink Live rankings. USCHO did not release a poll this week. 

By the Numbers

  • 208: Faceoff wins a season ago by Syracuse’s Tatum White, the most among Orange returnees.
  • 50: Combined save total by the Lindenwood goaltending tandem of Natalie Ferenc and Emily Finach in the Lions’ season-opening sweep of Bemidji State. 
  • 32: CHA-leading faceoff win total for Penn State’s Tessa Janecke. The sophomore won 65.3 percent of her draws (32-of-49) against Northeastern.
  • 32: Career points for Robert Morris junior Madison Primeau in two seasons at Syracuse. 
  • 15: Shots on goal by Mercyhurst sophomore Thea Johansson, the top total in the CHA after the season’s opening weekend. 
  • 5: Blocked shots by freshman Emma Pickering in RIT’s season-opening series at RPI, which tied for the second-highest total by a CHA skater to start the season. 

The Week Ahead

  • (RV/RV) Connecticut at (11/10) Penn State: The Nittany Lions will meet a Hockey East foe for the second week in a row when Connecticut visits Happy Valley. Connecticut has won three of the five previous meetings in the series.
  • (1/1) Wisconsin at Lindenwood: The Lions will host the defending national champions on Thursday and Friday. The Badgers won both games of last year’s series in Madison.
  • (RV/RV) Mercyhurst at St. Lawrence: The Lakers travel to Canton, N.Y., to take on the Saints this weekend. The two teams split last year’s meeting in Erie.
  • Syracuse at Post: The Orange open their 2023-24 campaign with a two-game series at NEWHA rival Post this weekend. 
  • Robert Morris at Union: The Colonials return to the ice for the first time since 2021 when the Colonials visit Union for their season-opening series.
  • RIT at Assumption: The Tigers travel to Worcester, Mass., for their first meeting with NEWHA foe Assumption.

Eight NYS-Born Players On The 2023-24 Buffalo Stampede Roster



The Buffalo Stampede are back for a second season. The U.S. Premier Hockey League team is back again in Lockport, NY playing all of their home games at the Cornerstone Arena.

This year’s Stampede team features eight NYS-born players on their team. They include Caden Cavalieri, forward, Amherst; Cameron Coogan, forward, Buffalo.

(Caden Cavalieri, forward)
(Cameron Coogan, forward, #12)

Ethan Stappenbeck, forward, Webster; Zachary Przybyl, forward, Grand Island; Will Sahlem, defenseman, East Aurora; Charley Healey, goaltender, Rochester.

(Will Sahlem, defense, #27)
(Zachary Przybyl, forward, #17)
(Ethan Stappenbeck, forward, #14)
(Charley Healey, goaltender, #1)

Gennaro DeMaio, goaltender, Poughkeepsie; Liam Letters, goaltender, Rochester.

(Gennaro DeMaio, goaltender,#30)

Brian Thompson is head coach of the Stampede. Buffalo will be playing a 44 regular-season game schedule, including 22 games at home.

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Lindenwood’s Morgan Neitzke, Penn State’s Maggie MacEachern, RIT’s Sarah Coe and Mercyhurst’s Sofia Nuutinen Earn CHA Player of The Week Honors


Quartet recognized for performances during games of Sept. 23-24

BOSTON, Mass. – College Hockey America is proud to honor four student-athletes as its CHA Players of the Week for their outstanding on-ice performances in games of Sept. 23-24. Week one winners are Lindenwood junior Morgan Neitzke (Forward), Penn State graduate student Maggie MacEachern (Defenseman), RIT junior goaltender Sarah Coe (Goaltender) and Mercyhurst freshman forward Sofia Nuutinen (Rookie).


Morgan Neitzke, Jr., F, Lindenwood (Jackson, Mich.)

Lindenwood’s Morgan Neitzke finished with five points on the weekend, scoring two points in the first game of the series against Bemidji State and tallying three points in the second match-up against the Beavers. The Jackson, Mich., native’s production fueled an opening weekend sweep of the Beavers. Neitzke surpassed 50 career points with the performance and led all CHA skaters in points scored on the weekend. This is her third career CHA weekly honor.

Honorable Mention: Sara Boucher, Sr., F, Mercyhurst: Became the 36th player in CHA history to reach 100 career points with a four-point performance in the Lakers’ sweep of Post this weekend … Alyssa Machado, Sr., F, Penn State: Scored the game-winning goal on Sunday with 5:23 remaining in the third period to give the Nittany Lions a split of their series with No. 5/5 Northeastern … Jordyn Bear, Jr., F, RIT: Tallied a goal and an assist to help lead RIT to a pair of 1-1 ties at RPI.


Maggie MacEachern, Gr., D, Penn State (Brooklin, Ont.)

Penn State’s Maggie MacEachern assisted on the game-winning goal in No. 11/11 Penn State’s 2-1 road victory over No. 5/5 Northeastern on Sunday. The Brooklin, Ont., native tallied four blocks in game one in the series and tacked on one more in the series finale. Her performance helped the Nittany Lions split the series with a tough Northeastern team. This is her first career CHA weekly honor.

Honorable Mention: Quinn McLaren, So., D, Lindenwood: Scored the game-winning goal for the Lions against Bemidji State in Saturday’s season opener.


Sarah Coe, Jr., G, RIT (Brooklin, Ont.)

RIT’s Sarah Coe recorded an 0-0-2 record at RPI last weekend. The Brooklin, Ont., native posted an 0.92 GAA and a .971 save percentage in the series. Coe made 35 stops in Saturday’s 1-1 tie and followed that up with a 33-save performance in Sunday’s 1-1 draw that included 15 stops in the second period. Her 68 saves this weekend puts her at first in the league in that category. This is Coe’s seventh career CHA weekly honor.

Honorable Mention: Ena Nystrøm, Gr., G, Mercyhurst: Stopped 17-of-17 shots in two shutout wins over Post to open the 2023-24 season. The shutouts were the ninth and 10th of her career … Josie Bothun, Sr., G, Penn State: Posted a 1.02 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage in the Nittany Lions’ split at No. 5/5 Northeastern, stopping 51-of-53 shots against one of the top scoring teams in the country.


Sofia Nuutinen, Fr., F, Mercyhurst (Vantaa, Finland)

Mercyhurst’s Sofia Nuutinen scored her first career goal in Saturday’s season opener against Post. The Vantaa, Finland, native also assisted on another Laker tally in the series for her first career multi-point weekend and fired eight shots on goal in the weekend match-up against the Eagles. Her performance helped Mercyhurst start 2-0 with a weekend sweep of Post. This is her first career CHA weekly award.

Honorable Mention: Karolina Hengelmüller, Fr., D, Penn State: Tallied one block and a +1 rating during her first weekend of play as a Nittany Lion. She also fired four shots on goal against No. 5/5 Northeastern … Addie Alvarez, Fr., F, RIT: Scored her first collegiate in RIT’s 1-1 tie at RPI, Sunday. The first-year forward scored from the left slot early in the third period to tie the game at 1-1.

(Photo provided by CHA)

OJHL Governors’ Showcase Back In Buffalo This Week; Buffalo Jr. Sabres Featured in Two Games


 All 24 OJHL teams to play in front of NHL, NCAA, U SPORTS, OHL scouts at LECOM Harborcenter 

Mississauga, ON – …. The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Governors’ Showcase returns to Buffalo’s LECOM Harborcenter this week, showcasing the league’s players to the hockey world.

All 24 OJHL teams will play two games during the course of the event Tuesday, Sept. 26, through Thursday, Sept. 28. The games count in the OJHL regular season standings.

It’s the sixth time the event has been staged in Buffalo. LECOM Harborcenter is the twin-rink practice facility of the Buffalo Sabres. It is attached to the NHL team’s arena, KeyBank Center, on downtown Buffalo’s waterfront.

“The return to Buffalo, NY for the OJHL Governors’ Showcase is three years in the making and we are extremely excited to bring back all 24 OJHL member clubs,” said OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy. “The support that the league receives from the staff of the LECOM Harborcenter and the Jr. Sabres organization allows for the smooth execution of this important event within the OJHL season.”

The Ontario Junior Hockey League is the largest Junior ‘A’ league operating under the auspices of the Canadian Junior Hockey League with 24 member clubs. The OJHL had more than 75 commitments in 2022-23 including more than 40 NCAA Division I scholarships.

The Governors’ Showcase annually attracts more than 200 scouts from various levels of the game, including the NHL, NCAA, CHL and U SPORTS.

All-day general admission passes will be available to fans for $20 US for each day of the showcase. Children under the age of 12 will be admitted free. Showcase games take place in both the main Rink 1 and adjoining secondary Rink 2.

The Burlington Cougars and Georgetown Raiders clash in Game 1 of the Governors’ Showcase Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

For the entire 2023-24 OJHL regular season schedule, including the Governors’ Showcase games, click on this link: https://www.ojhl.ca/stats/schedule

Here is the Showcase schedule:

September 26, 2023Main10:30 AMGEORGETOWN BURLINGTON 
September 26, 2023Rink 211:30 AMMARKHAM NIAGARA FALLS 
September 26, 2023Main1:30 PMCOLLINGWOOD TRENTON 
September 26, 2023Rink 22:30 PMMILTON LEAMINGTON
September 26, 2023Main4:30 PMST MICHAEL’SNORTH YORK
September 26, 2023Rink 25:30 PMSTOUFFVILLE BUFFALO 
September 26, 2023Main7:30 PMWELLINGTON JRC
September 26, 2023Rink 28:30 PMPICKERING CALEDON
September 27, 2023Rink 210:30 AMMISSISSAUGA ST MICHAEL’S
September 27, 2023Main11:30 AMHALIBURTONOAKVILLE
September 27, 2023Rink 21:30 PMBURLINGTON COLLINGWOOD
September 27, 2023Main2:30 PMLINDSAYMILTON
September 27, 2023Rink 24:30 PMPATRIOTS BRANTFORD
September 27, 2023Main5:30 PMLEAMINGTON COBOURG
September 27, 2023Rink 27:30 PMTRENTON WELLINGTON 
September 27, 2023Main8:30 PMAURORA MARKHAM
September 28, 2023Main10:30 AMNIAGARA FALLSPICKERING
September 28, 2023Rink 211:30 AMNORTH YORKAURORA
September 28, 2023Main1:30 PMBUFFALO PATRIOTS
September 28, 2023Rink 22:30 PMJRCHALIBURTON
September 28, 2023Main4:30 PMCOBOURGMISSISSAUGA
September 28, 2023Rink 25:30 PMBRANTFORDLINDSAY
September 28, 2023Main7:30 PMCALEDONSTOUFFVILLE
September 28, 2023Rink 28:30 PMOAKVILLEGEORGETOWN

CHA Weekend Wrap

From Friday’s Game
RIT 1 at RPI 1 (NC) Box Score RIT RecapRIT junior Kyla Bear scored with 6:53 left in the third period to help the Tigers earn a 1-1 tie on the road against RPI … Junior goaltender Sarah Coe held things down in the net as she stopped 35-of-36 shots … The performance was her 37th game with 30 or more saves in 55 career appearances … Freshman defenseman Emma Pickering fired a team-high seven shots on goal.

RIT 1 at RPI 1 (OT) (NC) Box Score / RIT Recap
Freshman Addie Alvarez netted the Tigers’ lone goal on Sunday as RIT skated to a 1-1 tie at RPI for the second day in a row … Fellow newcomer Emma Pickering led the Orange and Black in shots on goal (six) and blocks (four) … Junior Sarah Coe stopped 33 shots for her 38th career game with 30 or more saves … Coe stopped 68-of-70 shots in the two-game series.

(From Saturday Game)

(Art work provided by CHA)

“Small Saves”


Here is this week’s edition of “Small Saves.”


Local Chiropractor Credits Hockey In Making His Career Decision



Ice Hockey is one big reason why Dr. Mark Van Volkenburg is in the Chiropractic field today. He is currently a chiropractor for the Lockport Chiropractic Group located in Lockport, NY.

Growing up Van Volkenburg always had a passion for hockey. He also knew at a young age that he wanted to be in the health care field.

He just didn’t know doing what. But more on that later.

“I began playing hockey at the age of four down at Sabreland (today known as the Hockey Outlet Ice Complex in North Tonawanda, NY)” remembered Van Volkenburg, a native of Buffalo. “I played for the Wheatfield Blades organization.

“I was originally a forward. But one of my coaches, Steve Ferrentino, had me switch to defense. It was the best move I could have made. He was my hockey coach for six of my years with the Blades.

“Steve had quite an impact on my hockey career. He had a wealth of knowledge about hockey.”

Van Volkenburg had quite a distinguished career in hockey while growing up. Besides playing for the Blades organization, Van Volkenburg played high school hockey for Cheektowaga Central High School. He played on teams that won three consecutive “Super Sundays” in Buffalo. He also played on teams that were two-time finalists at the New York State level.

But along with the success Van Volkenburg and his teammates were experiencing, injuries began to pile up.

“While playing hockey, I was usually on the ice five to six times a week,” recalled Van Volkenburg. “Sooner or later injuries were going to happen.

“I had injuries to my lower and mid-back areas. Taking over the counter medications were only masking the pain.

“Finally my parents took me to a chiropractor. Every time I went there I seemed to bounce back quicker than I did taking medications.

“It was a life-saver for me and that is what turned me onto becoming a chiropractor. And when I talked to the chiropractor he would explain to me how the human body has the innate ability to heal itself.

“It was something I understood and made sense to me. And with the chiropractic care, injuries were decreasing.”

Following his graduation from high school it was on to Buffalo State College where Van Volkenburg majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry. White at Buffalo State he connected with a microbiologist and assisted him on his research. It turned out to be a move that paid off for Van Volkenburg down the road.

From Buffalo State it was on to the New York Chiropractic College where he received his degree and upon graduation was selected for the Libero A. Violini Health Center Award for the intern that performed at a high level of excellence in the area of patient evaluations, procedures and in assisting fellow interns in development of similar skills.

“I found a lot of similarities between hockey and going to school,” continued Van Volkenburg. “You had pressure on you when you played the game, and there was pressure on you when you are studying. And you have to be very disciplined in both and stay focused.”

Today, Van Volkenburg works at Lockport Chiropractic with Dr. August J. Domenico, Jr., Dr. David Lewis, Dr. Frankie Donovan and Dr. John J. Rockas.

And he still plays hockey.

“I still play once a week in East Aurora and really enjoy it,” commented Van Volkenburg, who has two daughters.  “For me hockey has been a part of my whole life.

“There is something special about hockey. It is a fast paced game and is a bit physical.”

Interestingly the roles Van Volkenburg deals with have reversed. He is now dealing with hockey players as patients, including one player that many Western New Yorkers recognize.

“I treated Matthew Barnaby and his son, who also plays hockey,” commented Van Volkenburg. “Matthew was one of the more interesting athletes I’ve ever met.

“I’ve also treated other players and athletes as well.”

The Chiropractor also gave hockey credit in another aspect.

“It helped me with life in general,” concluded Van Volkenburg, who also enjoys mountain biking, snorkeling, being outdoors , playing guitar and traveling.  “There is a whole different mentality in hockey. I had a lot of fun playing hockey when I was growing up.

“And I still do.”

(Photos provided by Dr. Van Volkenburg)

Penney Named Cornell Men’s Hockey Captain For 2023-24 Season


Seger, O’Leary Tabbed Alternate Captains

ITHACA, N.Y. — Junior forward Kyle Penney has been named captain of the Cornell men’s hockey program for the 2023-24 season, it was announced by the program.

Penney is the first non-senior captain of the Big Red hockey program since Morgan Barron was also named a captain as a junior during the 2019-20 season.

Joining Penney on the Big Red leadership group this season are senior forward Gabriel Seger and junior forward Jack O’Leary, who will both serve as alternate captains.

“We are thrilled to introduce our newly appointed leadership group, which includes a dynamic group of young individuals who embody the essential qualities of captains and leaders alike,” said Mike Schafer ’86, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey. “These remarkable individuals possess an unwavering work ethic, boundless empathy, unwavering courage, deep respect, self-awareness, and exceptional communication skills. As stewards of our team, department, university, and alumni, they will carry out their roles with the utmost pride and dedication.

“Their mission is to lead our team forward, continuing the illustrious legacy of Cornell hockey alongside the many other talented leaders within our ranks. Under their guidance, we anticipate an exciting and successful journey ahead for our team. Together, they will inspire and steer us toward new heights on and off the ice.”

Last season with the Big Red, Penney had seven goals and 11 assists for a career-high 18 points. His 11 helpers were also his most in a single season. In addition to his scoring outputs, Penney was an All-Ivy First Team selection after having 10 points in eight Ancient Eight contests.

Seger paced Cornell’s offense in his first season with the Big Red after transferring from ECAC Hockey rival Union, logging 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists) in as many games. He became the first Cornell player to have a 30-point season in his inaugural season with the Big Red since 2007-08, when Riley Nash registered 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in his freshman campaign. His 23 assists were the most by a Cornell player since former defenseman Yanni Kaldis (24 in 2018-19) and were the most by a forward since Greg Miller (25 in 2010-11).

O’Leary had a breakout sophomore season with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists). He had seven points (three goals, four assists) over the team’s final seven games, including multi-point performances against Brown (Feb. 24), Yale (Feb. 25), and Denver (March 23) in the regional semifinal of the 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship.

Cornell will begin its 2023-24 season with a pair of exhibitions against Toronto Metropolitan University (Oct. 14) and the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team (Oct. 21). The regular season begins Oct. 27 when the Big Red opens a two-game series with Minnesota Duluth at Lynah Rink.

(Cornell Men’s Hockey Photo)

Larry Playfair Receives OJHL’s Marc Mercier Chairman’s Award


Former NHLer has been president of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres since 2008

Buffalo, NY – …. Larry Playfair, the longtime governor of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres franchise, has been presented with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Marc Mercier Chairman’s Award.

The award was presented to Playfair by Mercier, the former chairman of the OJHL, in an on-ice presentation before tonight’s game between the Jr. Sabres and the Wellington Dukes at the LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo. The game was labelled Playfair Appreciation Night by the Jr. Sabres. Larry’s wife, Jayne Playfair, was also recognized during the pregame ceremony.

First awarded in 2015, the Chairman’s Award is presented at the chairman of the board’s discretion to an individual who demonstrates the core values of the OJHL, including integrity, professionalism, sportsmanship and personal growth, and who has gone above and beyond the normal course of responsibilities for the betterment of the league.

“Larry’s impact and contribution to the OJHL goes far beyond the commitment he makes each season to the players and staff of the Junior Sabres,” OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy said. “His vision, support and dedication for the League of Choice has been so valuable that without Larry Playfair the OJHL would not be the league it is today.”

Playfair has served as team president of the Jr. Sabres since 2008 when the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association acquired the junior franchise and the Alumni taking over daily operation of the team.

“Jayne and Larry Playfair, for several decades and throughout multiple ownership groups, have had the vision, persistence, and determination to create and foster the growth of the Buffalo Jr Sabres,” said Sean Wallace, Head Coach and General Manager of the Jr. Sabres. “Jayne and Larry have been the consistent bridge between the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Jr Sabres.”

The entire Buffalo Jr Sabres youth hockey organization was invited. All players were given “Playfair Appreciation Night” T-shirts. 

“The bridge between the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Jr Sabres began with a Jr. A team,” Wallace told the OJHL, “expanded to include a midget program, and has now grown to 14 teams from 7U to Jr A. This has been a vision of the Playfairs, to create an elite organization to give players the ability to reach their potential and to play at the highest levels of the game.” The Playfairs will be recognized in a pregame ceremony for their years of leadership, effort and commitment to our organization. 

Playfair has been instrumental in having the OJHL Governors’ Showcase hosted by the Jr. Sabres  at the LECOM Harborcenter. The event attracts NHL, NCAA and OHL scouts every fall.

A first-round draft pick of the Sabres in 1978, Playfair played in 688 NHL games with Buffalo and the Los Angeles Kings. A permanent resident of Western New York, he was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame 2022.

Throughout the history of the Junior A hockey club, former Buffalo Sabres have offered their services as head or associate coaches.  Former Junior Sabres coaches include Mike Peca, Larry Mickey, Morris Titanic and Jim Lorentz.  Ric Seiling served as an associate/assistant coach for three seasons when the club was known as the Niagara Scenic.

In addition to hundreds of college-bound players, the franchise (including its Scenic and Lighting eras) has been a stepping stone to the NHL for several players including Brian Gionta, Todd Marchant, Jeff Farkas, Lee Stempniak, Aaron Miller, Kevyn Adams and Ryan Callahan.  

(OJHL Photo)

The Dawning of a New Women’s League

Hayley Scumurra as a Buffalo Beaut.

Story and File Photos by Janet Schultz, NYHOL

(NYHOL will continue to cover Professional Women’s Ice Hockey with a team in New York and many players with NY connections on the other five teams. While we miss the Buffalo Beauts and having a Pro Team here, this is just another growth phase of professional women’s hockey and who knows what the future will bring. We urge support of these six teams, plus all the local hockey in your area at all levels from grassroots to high school to collegiate to NHL and PWHL. We look forward to the 2023-24 season!)

The Professional Women’s Hockey League was born July 1, 2023 and since that time the history has been developing at a steady pace. The League and its six teams are owned by Mark Walters Group, who purchased the assets of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in June to dissolve that league in order to launch the PWHL as the only professional women’s hockey league in North America. 

The PHF was founded in March 2015 as the National Women’s Hockey League, which at the time was the first women’s professional hockey league to pay its players. It was re-branded in September 2021.

The demise of the PHF ended a multi-year feud between that organization and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which was composed of stars from the U.S. and Canadian national teams. 

The PWHPA had been working with the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises for over a year to create a league of their own to compete with the PHF. Instead, the year long journey to “one league” ended with the disbandment of the PHF with the formation of the PWHL.

The new league is supported by a board of directors that includes King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Dodgers president Stan Kasten and Dodgers senior VP of business strategy Royce Cohen.

Teams in the PWHL include Montreal, Toronto, New York, Boston, Ottawa and Minneapolis. The season will commence in January 2024.

On September 1 the League named its General Managers including: Danielle Marmer, Boston; Natalie Darwitz, Minnesota; Daniele Sauvageau, Montreal; Pascal Daoust, New York; Michael Hirshfield, Ottawa and Gina Kingsbury, Toronto.

New York’s Daoust served as General Manager of the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the OMJHL from 2016-2023. He had been an assistant coach for the start-up of the University of Montreal’s women’s ice hockey team, where they won two national championships and three additional national podiums in seven years. He has also been an on-ice consultant mentoring players in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, Europe and universities/colleges.

Two weeks later the six inaugural coaches were named including: Courtney Kessel, Boston; Charlie Burggraf, Minnesota; Kori Cheverie, Montreal; Howie Draper, New York; Carla MacLeod, Ottawa and Troy Ryan, Toronto.

Draper led the University of Alberta Pandas for more than 25 years. He played at the University for the Bears and as team captain won the President’s Trophy for sportsmanship and leadership. As Head Coach of the women’s ice hockey team, he has an impressive list of accomplishments, including eight U SPORTS National Championships, two silver medals, 13 Canada West titles and four U SPORTS Coach of the Year awards.

The next step was each team signing their franchise players which included:

September 5, Ottawa signing Emily Clark/University of Wisconsin; Brianne Jenner/Cornell; Emerance Maschmeyer/Harvard.

September 6: Toronto: Renata Fast/Clarkson; Sarah Nurse/University of Wisconsin; Blayre Turnbull/University of Wisconsin.

September 6: Minnesota: Kendall Coyne Schofield/Northeastern; Kelly Pannek, U of Minnesota and Lee Stecklein, U of Minnesota.

September 7: Aerin Frankel, Northeastern; Megan Keller, Boston; Hillary Knight, University of Wisconsin. Frankel is a native of Chappaqua (NY) and is a Patty Kazmaier Awardee.

September 7: Montreal: Ann-Renee Desbeins, University of Wisconsin; Marie-Philip Poulin, Boston; Laura Stacey, Dartmouth.

New York signed their players on September 8. Alex Carpenter, Boston; Abby Roque, University of Wisconsin and Micah Zandee-Hart, Cornell. 

Carpenter is from North Reading, Pa and was a Patty Kazmaier awardee. She played for the PHF with the Boston Pride; Shenzen KRS Vanke Rays (CWHL), CWHL Kunlun Red Star; and was PWHPA Player of the Year in 2022-23.

Roque was the first Indigenous player for the US National Team at the Olympics where she took silver in 2022. She played in the PWHPA for two years.

Zandee-Hart was a co-captain and captain for Cornell University and also played in the PWHPA last season. She is from British Columbia.

With management in order and three players signed to each team the PWHL held its first-ever draft in Toronto on September 18. First round draft pick goes to Minnesota, who selected Minnesota native Taylor Heise. The rest of the first round selections include: Jocelyne Larocque, Toronto; Alina Muler, Boston; Ella Shelton, New York; Savannah Harmon, Ottawa and the final section to Montreal, Kristin O’Neill.

Shelton is a defenseperson from Ingersoll, Ontario and has a New York connection after playing four years of collegiate hockey with Clarkson University. She played junior hockey with the London Jr. Devilettes and played for Toronto and Team Scotiabank in the PWHPA.

Focusing on New York selections:

Defender Jaime Bourbonnais was chosen second and ninth overall. She last played in the PWHPA and plays defense. From Mississauga, Bourbonnais played at Cornell University and for Team Canada.

Jessie Eldridge at Colgate

Forward Jessie Eldridge, round 3, also played in the PWHPA and is from Canada. Eldridge also has a New York connection after playing her collegiate hockey at Colgate University.

In the fourth NY selected Forward Chloe Aurard a forward from Northeastern. She was born in France.

Forward Elizabeth Giguerre was selected 28th overall. She played her collegiate hockey at Clarkson University and most recently played with the Boston Pride of the PHF. 

Giguere as a member of the Boston Pride last season.

Next up was Corinne Schroeder, a goalie from Boston University and Quinnipiac University. She also played for the Boston Pride of the PHF. She is a native of Elm Creek, Manitoba.

Seventh round pick, a forward known around New York, Cornell’s Jill Saulnier. The Halifax native comes with a lot of experience with the Toronto Aeros, Calgary Inferno, Team Canada and the PWPHA.

Brooke Hobson, defense, is a native of Prince Albert and played for the Prince Albert Bears before playing four seasons with Northeastern University.

New York choose Center Jade Downie-Landry in the ninth round. She was born in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and played most recently for the Montreal Force of the PHF. She played her collegiate career at McGill University.

Jade Downie Landry as a member of the Montreal Force last season

Paetyn Levis is a native of Minnesota and played her high school hockey at Rogers High School before her career at Ohio State. She is a forward.

Abigail Levy is a native of Congers, New York and played her high school hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota. She played two years at Minnesota State University before completing her collegiate hockey at Boston University. 

During an interview following her being drafted she stated that “I am glad to be here in my hometown and feel that New York will be an amazing team.”

Olivia zafuto as a member of Colgate

Western New York’s Olivia Zafuto was drafted 69th overall. Zafuto played her youth hockey with the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles, attended Nichols High School where she played her high school hockey and then played four years for Colgate University. She most recently was signed to play in the PHF with Boston. Zafuto spent two seasons playing hockey in Sweden with the HV71 of the SDHL and the Linkoping of the SDHL. She is a native of Niagara Falls.

Kayla Vespa was selected in the 13th round. She is a forward from Hamilton, Ontario who has a New York connection after playing four seasons with St. Lawrence University. The Forward played her most recent hockey with the PWHPA.

Emma Woods with Toronto Six

Emma Woods is a forward from Burford, Ontario. She played her collegiate hockey with Quinnipiac and then headed to Europe to play for the Vanke Rays and Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of the CWHL and the Leksands of the SDHL. She returned to play three years for the Toronto Six of the NWHL/PHF.

Alexandra Labelle with Montreal Force

New York’s final pick of the 2023-24 Inaugural Draft was Alexandra Labelle of Quebec. She played her collegiate hockey at the University of Montreal and then played professional hockey with the PWHPA and the Montreal Force of the PHF.

Now a look at some New York connections and where they landed.

Buffalo’s Maureen Murphy was drafted by Montreal in round 3, sixth overall. Murphy played for Northeastern in 2022-23 and prior to that she was at Providence College. She is a forward.

Hayley Scamurra, a familiar name to the WNY community is from Getzville. She went to Ottawa in the fifth round. Her career has taken her from Northeastern University to the NWHL/PHF Buffalo Beauts for two seasons, then to the PWHPA. She has been a member of Team USA. She also played for the PWHL in Oakville and Burlington.

Fairport native Natalie Burchbinder was drafted by Minnesota. She played high school hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s and her college career at the University of Wisconsin.

There were no trades in this draft.

With rosters in hand, the teams will now look at free agents and then begin preparation for training camps which are scheduled for later this year. Undrafted players become free agents and may sign a Standard Player Agreement with any team at any point following the draft. 

Let’s Play House League Hockey!

Ball Hockey

Story and Photos by Janet Schultz, NYHOL˝©

Travel hockey is where every parent seems to want their child to play. But what about those children who just want to play competitive hockey and have fun with teammates? What if travel time and expense are an issue for the family? If you mention “house” and get the “look” do you feel it’s not as good as travel?

One local hockey person, with hockey in her blood and a passion to grow the game took a step to help develop hockey players and make house a good option. With the support of the  New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) Linda Groff developed a weekend clinic that works with house league players.

Groff, who serves as the NYSAHA Secretary and is the assistant manager at Northtowns Arena, has spent the past year developing a clinic for 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U players who play on house teams.

“I took this idea to the board because the clinics currently offered are usually for travel team kids and the house kids are left to the wayside,” said Groff. “How are we going to replace those kids who do choose to move up to travel,  if we aren’t concentrating on our grassroots program?”

“We want to concentrate on player development and that’s where we start–house.” said Groff.

Since January Groff has been working on the program. She initially thought about 48 skaters and 12 goalies in each of the four sections of New York State. In some areas she got close to those numbers and in other areas a little less; but she did find out less can be better. 

“It’s controlled chaos out there, so I’m glad we didn’t go for the higher numbers,” said Groff.

Her first clinic was in Clifton Park in the North Section of NYS. They combined the 10, 12 and 14 year olds and they only had a couple of hockey Dads as volunteers. But Groff made it work and she not only included player development but also put in some coaching development for those volunteers.

“I wanted them to see how I keep the kids moving and working through stations,” she explained.

The following weeks in Skaneateles (Central) and Long Island (East) they had more players and more volunteers with many organizations coming together as one and working together for the greater good and everyone saw the bigger picture of developing players.

NYHOL caught up with Groff at the WNY section clinic at Northtowns. With 35 players plus 4 goalies she had a clinic that was quick moving.

“Many of the kids know me and wanted to come out with Coach Linda (Groff).” 

Developing players includes a large skill set that can be monotonous but not with Coach Groff. She has a fun personality that translates into everything she does, on and off the ice.

“The drills have funny names like Star Wars, Hungry Hippos and Dog Fight; they don’t even know they are learning while they are doing them,” she continued.

“They are having fun!”

Groff has found that many of the skill sets she teaches aren’t taught at a young age so that by the time they are ready for travel, if they choose that route, their skating stride isn’t where is supposed to be and they aren’t trusting their edges. So in the controlled environment and at a slower pace she can give them the help they need. If a Coach sees someone struggling, he/she can call them aside and work on them one-on-one.

Groff also uses the fun drills to teach them how to play the body. 

“So many just crash into one another and by the time they are 14 they are skating with their head down and are in line for a concussion.

“I teach proper angling, how to play the body, a safe way to hit…all based on fun,” she explains. “I also teach proper body contact because in women’s hockey we can’t hit.”

Groff’s final moments of each clinic are bringing the players together and asking them if they are having fun and if they still like hockey after the session. At Northtowns they were cheering their answer!

“The worst thing to see is a kid crying or saying ‘I don’t want to do this,” she said.

Groff does take some travel kids in the program if they ask because she doesn’t want to deny any child ice time. But she tells them that these are teachable moments.

“I had travel players on Long Island and there I explained ways to play so they don’t think they have to carry the puck all the time,” said Groff. “I taught them that they had teammates, had to trust them and pass the puck through the open space to them.”

There are clinics all year long, all over the state and country but again, most of these are focused on children that are on travel teams and seeking more development. They are also fast-paced and very few grassroots basics are taught.

She looked at the National clinics that come through Buffalo and most of them are development camps for boys and girls over 14. They are specifically designed to move these players up the ranks from travel. While there could be players on house teams that could make that if given the opportunity, they aren’t part of those camp invitations.

Her hope is that USA Hockey will take a look at this clinic and make is the prototype for a nation-wide program. 

“We are all about growing the game and being diverse so because they want to play recreational doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the extra attention,” said Groff.

“USA Hockey was actually here this weekend for a coaching development clinic and so they did stop in a take a look at what I was doing,” said Groff, who will be making a presentation on the clinic at the annual meeting of USA Hockey.

Groff explained that while she was lucky to have the support of her parents to go from grassroots to travel to playing collegiate hockey with Niagara University’s DI Women’s Program; as a single Mom she couldn’t make that commitment or her children. They also didn’t want to play travel at the time but they wanted to play hockey.

“We need to introduce House leagues and recreational leagues again and build that up,” she explains. “Having these clinics be an option will introduce kids to hockey. 

We have Try Hockey for Free, Try Goalie for Free so getting those kids to sign up and explaining to the parents its two or three times a week and a game on the weekend may be a better option than travel. 

“Being part of a team, making new friends in a team atmosphere are all life lessons,” said Groff, who thought about giving up the game but just couldn’t.

“I do not want to ever stop,” she concluded. 

Buffalo Stampede vs Nashville Spartans Photo Album


All photos by Janet Schultz; property of Janet Schultz Photographer©

The USPHL opened at Lockport’s Cornerstone Arena with Buffalo Stampede taking on the Nashville Spartans. The game ended with a 11-1 loss to the hometown team. James Somero scored the first andone and only goal for the Stampede in opening minutes of the first period. Nashville’s Gus Immken had the game-winner minutes later in the first period. Logan Van Gels had a hatrick for Nashville.