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Zafuto Finds Hockey Happiness With Pride

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

Maybe someday when Olivia Zafuto’s hockey career is over, she may want to consider going to work for a travel agency. The reason being is because the journey Zafuto took to get to Boston, MA to play pro hockey for the PHF’s Pride is one that would make any travel agent proud.

Her hockey journey began in her hometown of Niagara Falls, NY where she began playing for the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles organization. From there it was on to nearby Buffalo, where she played for the Nichols School girls prep team.

From there it was on to Hamilton, NY where she attended and played college hockey for four years with Colgate University.

(Zafuto during her days at Colgate)

Following short stops in Buffalo and Minnesota after being drafted by teams in those cities playing in the PWHPA but never playing for either team, it was off to Europe where Zafuto played hockey for two seasons in the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

With Women’s Pro Hockey growing in the United States and Canada, why Europe?

“It was something I wanted to do,” stated Zafuto, who played for the HV71 and Linkoping HC teams in Sweden. “I loved it.

“I got to travel all over Europe. The hockey over there was great.

“The way the hockey is structured, it was fun. I had teammates that were from around the world.

“I got to meet so many people from so many different cultures. It was incredible.”

Zafuto admitted that the hockey over in Europe was a bit different than what she was used to over here in North America.

“The game is a little faster over here with the smaller ice surfaces,” commented Zafuto, who scored the most points by a Colgate Raider defenseman in program history. “Ice surfaces were a little bigger over in Europe.

“But the styles and the way they played the game is similar to the hockey over here. There was a little more chipping and chasing over there with the bigger sheet of ice.”

In general, what was women’s hockey like over in Europe?

“It is very similar to women’s pro hockey over here,” answered Zafuto, who was named to the ECAC All-Conference team in her senior season of 2018-19. “You’re fighting for a lot of the same stuff.

“It also depends on what team and what city you play for. Some are better than others.

“It’s not bad. They’re getting there. It can be better, though.”

So how and why Boston with the Pride?

(Zafuto in action with the Pride)

“I was debating as to where I was going to play this season,” responded Zafuto. “I talked to a couple of teams in the league.

“I liked the building Boston played in and Boston is a fun city. In the end I thought it would be a great opportunity for me. I decided to go to Boston and still debated about going back overseas for another season.

“In the end I decided on Boston and playing for the Pride.”

One of the first things Zafuto did after signing with the Pride was to circle the dates of December 10 and 11 on her calendar. Those were the dates when the Pride would be travelling to Western New York to play the Buffalo Beauts.

Interestingly, on both days there was a section of seats at the Northtown Center Feature Rink that was filled with a Zafuto cheering section.

“It was incredible,” responded Zafuto, the daughter of Steve and Maria Zafuto. “It was actually humbling.

“It was an honor to play here in front of so many family and friends. I really felt the love coming back in here.”

As a special touch, Zafuto was in the starting lineup for both games and was introduced to the fans on hand by Public Address announcer Ryan Burgess as a native of Niagara Falls, NY.

“That was a nice touch,” commented Zafuto, who also has a brother. “It’s always nice coming home.

“And for me, it was nice winning both games as well for the Pride.”

Having experienced hockey at several different levels, what advice does Zafuto have for upcoming girls/women hockey players?

(Zafuto as a member of the Pride)

“Keep working hard,” concluded Zafuto. “I love coaching younger girls who tell me that they want to play pro hockey someday.

“I think it’s great that they now have something to look forward to and someone to look up to.

“Keep dreaming and keep working hard and do what you can to get to each new level of hockey.

“Women’s hockey is headed in the right direction. There are still things we are fighting for.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting there.”

(Photo’s by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

WNYGVIH Recap: Weeks 5 & 6

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By Janet Schultz, NYHOL; Photos by Damian Adams and Janet Schultz

Around WNYGVIH

As has come the motto of the WNYGVIH Federation, anything can happen on any given day and any team can win on any given day. You can’t predict what happens on this league, at least not always.

The New Year has brought about some surprises, new records and lots of excitement. The League has had a major upset breaking a team’s shut-out streak, a winning-streak was broke, several hattricks, volunteer goalies to fill in for the regulars and the usual rescheduled game due to unforeseen circumstances.

Kennedy Ruest Stopping Shots for Niagara County

So let’s begin…

HEWSH and FFLOP opened the New Year with a game at West Seneca. HEWSH took that one 3-2 with Brynn Holland, Meghan Waszkielewicz, Riley Andzel scoring. Ella Buczynski made the saves in the net. For FFLOP Avery McDonald and Maura Langdon scored.

Across town that evening Monsignor Martin dropped a 5-1 to Niagara County. Becca Sander had the lone goal for MM while Niagara County’s goals were spread around. Scoring were Julia Hoffman, Sam Latini, Paige Spatorico, Mara Beiter and Abby Zimmerman. Mariela Mjulready stopped 19 of 20 SOG for the win.

On Tuesday it was LIDA 6-1 over CASH and KENGIL with a 2-0 shutout over HEWSH. 

Sydney Radecki had a hattrick for LIDA and Cayden Kowalow had her first goal of the season. Claire Whiteford also had a goal with Emily Lysiak having the game winner. For CASH it was Fish with an assist from Jenny Wild. 

Over at Lincoln KENGIL continued with their shutout streak by beating HEWS 2-0. Goals scorers were Isabella Jayme and Emiliana Cassillo with Carolyn Bourgeault stopping all 13 SOG.

Jordan Hofschneider with 3 shut-outs this season

Niagara County took on Williamsville in Amherst on Wednesday, January 4 and came away with a 3-2 victory. Scoring were Zimmerman, Natalee Lawrence and Spatorico. Stopping 38 SOG for the win was Kennedy Ruest. Williamsville’s Addison Stachura and Alexandra Hennessy scored.

Thursday’s are a busy time for WNYGVIH with four games. KENGIL shutout Monsignor Martin 4-0; Niagara County beat FFLOP 4-2, HEWSH stopped CASH with a 5-0 shutout and Williamsville beat St. Mary’s of Lancaster 1-0.

Jordan Hofschneider took the win for KENGIL stopping all 13 SOG. Madison Flory, Jayme, Teagan Willats, Cassillio had the goals.

Sam Latini had a hattrick, including two unassisted goals for the   NiCo win  over FFLOP. She ended with a four point night adding in an assist.

Andzel had a hattrick and an assist in the 5-0 HEWSH win over CASH. Waszkielewicz and Phillips  added in the other two goals. Buczynski stopped 16 SOG.

Andzel leads in scoring

Stachura had the game winning goal with an assist from Shannon Pogorzala in the 1-0 Williamsville win over St. Mary’s. Anna Meyer made 13 saves for the shutout.

Things fired up the following week with FFLOP beating St. Mary’s of Lancaster 4-1 on Monday night and HEWSH beating Niagara County 3-2. A close game with Buczynski stopping 15/17 shots for the win and Ruest stopping 17/20 shots for Nico. Phillips, Andzel and Hart scoring for HEWSH and Latini and Mallone adding points for Nico.

On Tuesday, LIDA beat MMAA 5-2, KENGIL beat Williamsville 9-0 and St. Mary’s lost 8-1 to HEWSH.

Radecki with the game winning goal and a hattrick plus one for LIDA. Whiteford added the other goal. Irzycki was the winning goalie. Trinity Kehoe and Reese Honadle scored for MMAA.

KENGIL totally dominated Williamsville with the 9-0 shutout. Williamsville’s goalie, Anna Meyer, was out that night and volunteer goalie Sophia DePrima stepped in. DePrima is a tenth grade forward who stopped 11 of the 20 SOG. For KENGIL Cassillio had four goals, Flory had two, Turnbull, Marzec and I Bourgeault each had one.

DePrima #10 for Williamsville stepped in as a goalie

It was Senior Night at HEWSH on January 10 and they ended that evening with an 8-1 victory over St. Mary’s of Lancaster. Andzel had a hattrick, with Hart dropping in two, and Mruk and Phillips each had one for the victory. In goal Buczynski stopped all but one shot. 

CASH took a victory lap on January 11 with a 4-1 win over Monsignor Martin. Isabella Zivis had the game winning goal and dropped in an additional goal with Sydney Spear and Wild adding to the scoreboard. Melissa MacLeod was the winning goalie, stopping 20 of 21 SOG. Monsignor Martin’s lone goal came from Addison Cherry, assisted by Annemarie Testa and Becca Sander. 

Kenmore’s Isabella Jayme (Photo by Damian Adams)

Williamsville beat FFLOP on January 12 with a 3-2 victory. Stachura had two goals and Scarlet Canna had one with Meyer stopping 20/22 shot. Both of FFLOP’s goals were scored by Maya Griffin. 

KENGIL continued their shut-out streak with a 5-0 win over CASH with Kumrow getting the game-winner. I. Bourgeault, Jayme, Turnbull added goals for the win.

It was another shutout at North Buffalo with HEWSH beating MMAA 5-0. Scoring was passed around with Andzel, Holland, K. Barrett, Waszkielewicz and Drzazgowski getting goals.

` The action continued the next week…

First, the Niagara County vs St. Mary’s game scheduled for January 16 was moved to January 18.

On Tuesday, HEWSH beat LIDA 7-2. Angel, K. Barrett, Andzel, Drzazgowski, H. Barrett and Holland all contributing and Buczynski stopping 20 of 22 shot. For LIDA Buczkowski and Original scored.

KENGIL beat Niagara County 6-2. Maddy Jagow was the first person to score on KENGIL this season ending their shut-out streak. Carolyn Bourgeault gave up her first goal in net after 323:28 minutes of the 508.28 minute shutout streak.

On Wednesday things continued be prove interesting with St. Mary’s beating Niagara County 4-0.  This was the first win in regulation for St.Mary’s and the first win for Goaltender Avery Hall this season. It was also the first shut-out victory for St. Mary’s.

Williamsville beat LIDA 5-2 that same evening. Donnelly had the game-winner on the powerplay.

The week continued to prove surprising when KENGIL lost to HEWSH 3-0. It’s the first loss for KENGIL all season. Andzel had the game winner with Holland and H. Barrett adding to the scoreboard. Buczynski had the shutout win with stopping all 23 SOG.

Buczynski stopping shots

Thursday brought the week to a close with a 9-3 FFLOP victory over St. Mary’s. Emily Patton with the hattrick for FFLOP. The Lancers starting goalie, Avery Hall,  left the game injured and Brooklyn Vitez volunteered to play in the net and finished with 13 saves. Vitez is a ninth grade defender.

Brooklyn Vitez stepped in as a goalie for St. Mary’s (Photo by Damian Adams)

Williamsville took a 4-3 victory from MMAA in overtime in the final game of the week. Martin had a four point night with 2 goals and 2 assists, Donnelly had the game winner in OT and Pogorzala had the other goal. Meyer was in net stopping 16/19. Prendergast, Cherry and Ryann Honadle scored for MMAA.

Andzel leads the scoreboard with 24 goals and 10 assists for 34 points; followed by Sam Latini, Isabella Bourgeault, Sydney Radecki and Madison Flory/Isabella Jayme.

In goal Carolyn Bourgeault has had 7 shut-outs; Ella Buczynski has had 5 and Jordan Hofschneider has had 3. 

KENGIL sits in first place with 36 points but HEWSH is close behind with 35.5. Then its Niagara County, Williamsville, FFLOP, LIDA, CASH, MMAA and St. Mary’s.

On to another week of WNYGVIH play with several senior nights. 

See you at the rink!!

Nichols School Girls Prep Hockey Team Victorious

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

The Nichols School Girls Prep Hockey team defeated the Fort Erie U18AA Falcons, 5-1, Friday night at the Nichols Ice Rink.

Nichols opened the scoring mid-way through the first period, taking a 1-0 lead over the Falcons on a goal by Molly Duffett.

The Vikings opened their lead to 2-0 early in the second period on a goal by Kylie Nolan. They increased their lead to 3-0 less than a minute after scoring their second goal thanks to a goal by Julia Peters.

Late in the same period Nichols upped their lead to 4-0 on a goal by Kiersten Smith.

The Vikings increased their lead to 5-0 early in the third period on a goal by Seina Spadone.

The Falcons finally beat Nichols goalie, Brynn Bacak, late in the third period, when EB McIntosh scored.

With the victory the Vikings increased their League record to 12-5-1.

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Six From NYS On NHL Central Scouting 2023 Midterm Ranking

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By Warren Kozireski —

Six players from New York State—three from the New York metropolitan area, two from Buffalo and one from the North Country—are among the National Hockey League Central Scouting preliminary list for the 2023 NHL Draft to be held June 28-29 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Quinton Musty is a 6’2”, 205 lb. left wing from Hamburg, south of Buffalo. Ranked 11th among North American skaters and a projected first round draft pick, he is playing his second season with Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League after coming out of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres program. He had 12 goals and 48 points over the first 32 games. He tied a program record in December with seven points in one game, was named to the OHL’s second all-rookie team in 2021-22, after registering 31 points in 50 games, and donned the sweater of Team United States in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in August, leading the squad with five points in four contests.

Fellow western New Yorker Gavin McCarthy (Clarence Center) was slotted 39th in the midterm rankings. The 6’1”, 181 lb. defenseman with Muskegon in the USHL where he had 18 points over the first 20 games. He is committed to Boston University in the fall.

Akwesasne native Carey Terrance came in ranked 50th. The 6’1” and 174 lb. center had 16 goals and 24 points in the first 38 games and second season with the Erie Otters in the OHL.

U.S. National Team Development Program defenseman Drew Fortescue, a Boston College commit for 2023, is next ranked 58th. He is a 6’3”, 170 lb. left-shot defensive defenseman with 18 assists over a combined 44 games of the mixed team schedule between the USHL and against college programs.

Northport’s Tanner Adams is a 5’11”, 183 lb. forward skating for Tri-City in the United States Hockey League (USHL). The Providence College commit and Long Island Royals product is ranked 73rd. He had six goals with 15 points in his first 23 games this season with the Storm.

Fortescue’s teammate with the USNDTP, Ryan Fine, is slotted 184th. The 6’0”, 183 lb. forward from Center Moriches had a combined 15 goals and 31 points over his first 46 USHL and USDP games this season. He recently announced his switch from committing to Boston College to Harvard next fall.

In addition, Cornell University has Mount St. Charles Academy forward Chase Pirtle ranked 141st. The 6’2”, 185 lb. right wing has a combined 12 goals and 24 points in 28 games.

As of Jan. 18, the New York Rangers have two first round selections in 2023 after dealing Nils Lundqvist to Dallas for a conditional (non-top ten) pick while the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres each still own their own picks.

Three With NY State Ties Named Nominees For 2022-23 Humanitarian Award

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By Warren Kozireski —

The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation announced 15 nominees for the 2023 Hockey Humanitarian Award and three have connections with New York State.

In its 28th season, the award is presented annually at the Frozen Four to college hockey’s finest citizen; a student-athlete who makes significant contributions to his or her team as well as to the community-at-large.

RPI junior Hannah Price, Syracuse University junior Sarah Thompson and Buffalo Sabres 2019 first round draft pick Ryan Johnson, stand among the nominees.

Price is a senior on defense for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers. According to the Engineers press release, she  has been “a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the last three years, she has helped expand the group’s efforts to improve the RPI community and surrounding area, including a co-sponsored blood drive with the American Red Cross, where she was responsible for recruiting and promoting the event.

(Hannah Price)

“On campus, Price has helped make National Girls & Women in Sports Day a resounding success, teaching basic hockey skills to area youth, who may not otherwise have the opportunity. She has also participated in a mentoring program with Troy School 14, meeting weekly over Google Meets with her reading partner, offering motivation, comprehension and fluency during the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years.

“During her time in Troy, Price has worked with the Food Recovery Network, collecting leftover food from dining facilities and delivering the food to homeless shelters multiple times each week. She also works closely with Troy Street Soldiers II, where she hands out water, food and basic necessities to the less fortunate in the city.

“In her hometown of Pittsburgh, Hannah spearheaded the city’s participation in Natural Resource Defense Council’s Food Matters program as a Food Policy intern. Through her efforts, they were able to increase the size, diversity, and participation of Food Matters Working Group. She was key in the successful campaign for Food Matters Month (December 2021) including social media outreach with all working group members, and a panel discussion with local leaders in the field.”

Thompson is a junior forward with the Orange. Fourteen months ago, she launched ‘Sticks Together’ to provide children opportunities in sport after three years in development. “EVERY KID regardless of gender, race, economic class or physical capability, deserves to participate in sports,” Thompson states on her SticksTogether.org website. “EVERYONE deserves something that makes them look forward to tomorrow. For me, that was hockey. And for many others, it could be too. As the creator of Sticks Together, my goal is to ensure that those kids get the chance to play and find out.”

(Sarah Thompson)

The sport management major’s first ‘Sticks Together’ project was a humanitarian trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina from May 16 through June 6, 2022. Through the IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ) Sport Development program, Thompson and Syracuse classmate Tracey Edson worked with young children and teenagers residing in the town of Recoleta to teach them the fundamentals of sports and health. She brought recycled hockey sticks and other street hockey equipment to the children to teach the game through the afterschool care program. She also provided every child with a program t-shirt.  

The second ‘Sticks Together’ project is scheduled for May 2023 in Muizenberg, South Africa.

Johnson is in his senior year on the blueline at the University of Minnesota. In addition to taking on a leadership role on a young Golden Gophers squad, according to the team website he “has been active in the community since stepping on campus and helps run outreach around the area. He has played an important role with the Firebase Movement, a network of local churches and houses of prayer that seek to preach the Gospel to every man, woman and child in the Twin Cities.”

(Ryan Johnson)

(Photos by RPI Athletics, Syracuse University Athletics and NHL.com)

New York Raptors Report

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By Michael Meyers —

The New York Raptors had a holiday charity hockey game and family skate back on December 18, 2022.  There were baked goods and a raffle was held during the game to support the Raptors.

The Raptors played a game against the New York Eagles. The Raptors defeated the Eagles, 5-4.

The Raptors record is now three wins, three losses and one tie.

Following the game the two teams had an open ice skate with their families.

 

Army’s Leahy Is Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week

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WINTHROP, Mass. –– Atlantic Hockey is proud to honor one athletic trainer and three student-athletes as its Players of the Week for their heroic and outstanding performances in games of Jan. 5-8: Army West Point senior associate athletic trainer Rachel Leahy (Player) is joined by Army West Point senior defenseman Anthony Firriolo (Defensive Player), RIT sophomore goaltender Tommy Scarfone (Goaltender) and Sacred Heart freshman forward Marcus Joughin (Rookie) as this week’s honorees.

ATLANTIC HOCKEY PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Rachel Leahy, Senior Associate Athletic Trainer, Army West Point (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)

Army West Point senior associate athletic trainer Rachel Leahy’s quick actions when Black Knight junior Eric Huss suffered a throat laceration in Thursday’s Army-Sacred Heart game prevented a serious injury from becoming catastrophic. Leahy was the first person to Huss after the forward was cut by an inadvertent skate blade and remained by his side to control the bleeding from the time they left the ice until Huss arrived at the hospital and entered the emergency room. Huss underwent surgery Thursday evening to close the wound and is expected to make a full recovery from his injury. Leahy joined the West Point athletic training staff in July 2019 and has worked with the Black Knight men’s rugby, women’s volleyball and softball teams in addition to the ice hockey squad. This is her first career Atlantic Hockey weekly honor. 

Penfield’s Wall Pacing Penn State Men’s Hockey

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By Warren Kozireski —

Penn State senior right wing and assistant captain set career-highs in leading the Nittany Lions in points (29) and goals (16) in earning Big Ten Honorable Mention after the 2021-22 season.

For an encore, the Carolina Hurricanes sixth round selection (181st overall) in the 2019 Entry Draft stands tied for second in the conference in goals (11) and tenth in points (20) through the first 22 games of the 2022-23 campaign.

Wall returned to his hometown Dec. 30-31 as Penn State played at RIT. He netted two goals and added an assist in the first game in front of several dozen family members and former high school teammates.

“You never know how it’s going to go, but I’m glad we got the win and obviously nice to have a couple of points as well.

“Growing up in Rochester and wanting to play college hockey, to be able to do it senior year here…is a dream come true and I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I tried to really take in every moment out there; I might not get anything like this ever again, so it was just an absolute honor.”

The 6’1” 190 lb. soon-to-be-23-year-old (Feb. 1) played junior hockey for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in 2015-16 before jumping to play prep school hockey at Salisbury School for one-plus seasons.

In 2018-19 it the BCHL and Chilliwack where he broke out offensively with 31 goals and 64 points over 49 games prior to arriving on the Penn State campus.

In addition to wearing the “A”, Wall is playing the point on one of the power play units and kills penalties along with his top line duties.

And he is very aware that he is in the home stretch of his final season of collegiate hockey.

“It is totally in the back of your mind that it’s coming to an end, but right now I’m just trying to take it all in. A lot of alumni say they wish they were still here, so you really take that advice and don’t take a day for granted because it’s going to go by in the blink of an eye like it already has, so take it day-by-day and really enjoy it and really enjoy being around the guys; you’re not going to see them forever.”

(Penn State Men’s Hockey Photos)

NY Hockey OnLine Update

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NY Hockey OnLine’s email is back in business. Following several days of technical difficulties, the emails (Randy@nyhockeyonline.com and Janet@nyhockeyonline.com) are operating again.

Thanks for your understanding.

NY Hockey OnLine Alert

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In case you are tying to get in contact with either Randy or Janet Schultz or NY HockeyOnLine in general through their email accounts, please bear with them. There has been some technical difficulties with the accounts and they are being corrected.

Thank you for your understanding.

Beauts Sign Hofmann For Remainder of 2022-23 PHF Season

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BUFFALO – The Buffalo Beauts have announced that they have signed goaltender Tera Hofmann to a standard player contract for the remainder of the 2022-23 Premier Hockey Federation season. She becomes the 22nd player to be signed to the Beauts roster for the current campaign. The deal is a 1-year contract in the amount of $7,788.46, which is the current PHF prorated minimum salary at the time of this signing.

Hofmann was previously signed to professional tryout offers (PTOs) by the Beauts for November 5 and 6 versus the Montreal Force and December 17 versus the Toronto Six.

“To represent the Buffalo Beauts is to represent a group of hard working, loyal, and community-oriented people,” said Hofmann. “These hockey players, staff, and fans create such a fun and competitive playing environment, and I’m looking forward to officially joining them for the remainder of the season! Thank you to everyone who has helped get me to where I am today—Go Beauts!”

“Tera has already been part of our team since Day One of training camp,” said Beauts GM Nate Oliver. “So there is no change in that regard – she has been part of this all along. But signing her to a standard contract removes the practice player moniker and makes her a fully rostered player on the team. Tera has been a key contributor for us and has provided some really solid goaltending.”

Hofmann has the Beauts lone victory through the team’s six regular season contests thus far. She turned aside 31 of the 33 shots she faced in a 3-2 Beauts win against Montreal on November 6. The performance gives Hofmann a .939 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average, while earning her the Second Star of the game. Hofmann served as the Beauts backup netminder for the other two games on a PTO.

“This season more than ever, it has been important to manage your salary cap,” said Oliver. “The Beauts are now in the position that we could sign Tera officially and it was a no-brainer for us to do so.”

Hofmann played in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 Premier Hockey Federation seasons with the Metropolitan Riveters and Toronto Six respectively. Through her three PHF seasons, the 24-year-old Hofmann has posted a record of 2-1-0 while playing in six regular season games to go along with a .899 SV% and a 2.94 GAA.

Fellow Beauts goaltender Kassidy Sauvé is still out on injured reserve. Hofmann and 34-year-old veteran Lovisa Berndtsson are Buffalo’s two healthy netminders at this point in time.

Youngstown’s Cecconi Back Home

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By Warren Kozireski —

When Joseph Cecconi last skated regularly on western New York ice, he was 16 years old in the jersey of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. But, after a Dec. 16 trade with the Dallas Stars for defenseman Oskari Laaksonen, the now-25-year-old blueliner is back home with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League.

“It’s been great; the culture here is fantastic and I know a lot of guys in this organization, so it’s kind of been an easy transition coming from Texas and I’m just excited to keep working with the team and see where it goes,” Cecconi said after his first home game in an Amerks uniform.

“Summer workouts with Sean Malone, I was roommates with Brendan Warren at school, I played with Mason Jobst, Mitch Eliot and Michael Mersch so it’s a lot of familiar faces.”

A fifth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2015 before starting his four-year college career at the University of Michigan, the 6’3”, 215 lb. right shot gives Rochester a needed large body on the back line to help lock down opponents rushes with his reach.

“I think he’s a rock-solid defender, he’s hard to play against, he’s got a long stick and I think he’s done a really good job in his time early on with us and we hope that we can continue to help him grow,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said.

“What he came into pro hockey with was as a guy who had a chance to be an NHLer and we want to help him get back to that spot.”

After his two seasons with the Jr. Sabres, Cecconi spent a season and a half with Muskegon in the United States Hockey League.

During his sophomore season with the University of Michigan, Cecconi was on gold-medal winning and undefeated Team USA for the IIHF U-20 World Juniors tournament along with now-Buffalo Sabres Tage Thompson and Casey Fitzgerald along with NHLers Troy Terry, Charlie McAvoy, Adam Fox, Jordan Greenway, Jake Oettinger, Kieffer Bellows, Ryan Lindgren and Clayton Keller.

He’s never been a huge producer of offense with a combined nine goals and 62 points over four collegiate seasons with the vast majority of those coming as an upperclassman. He has four AHL goals in 179 games.

The Sabres organization didn’t acquire him for offense and Cecconi is happy to start anew with the team he rooted for as a kid.

“I was traveling with my old team in Texas and got the call from management and found out. I’m just ecstatic that’s it’s the Buffalo Sabres. Obviously, I’m pretty close to Buffalo and my family lives around here, so they can make the trip either way. It’s sad to leave a bunch of my friends back in Texas, but it’s part of the business and I’m excited for a fresh opportunity.”

“My mom would take me to almost every Sabres game when I was growing up, so I’m a big fan. I had a bunch (of favorite players), but Brian Campbell was one of my favorite guys. You name the guys on that team and I like them.”

Third game as an Amerk and his team allowed their 4-0 second period lead evaporate to just one. Final minute protecting a one-goal lead and the coaching staff calls on the newcomer to protect the lead.

“I’m just trying to build trust from the staff in practice and game day—we haven’t gotten too many practices in yet especially with the last game cancelled—but they somewhat know who I am as a player and I just need to keep doing my thing and earning that trust.”

(NHL.com photo)

New York Raptors Report

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By Michael Meyers —

On December 11, 2022 the New York Raptors played their first home game against the Central Park North Stars. The Raptors and North Stars played to a tie.

The Raptors now have a record of two wins, three losses and a tie for the 2022-23 season.

                                         

Five New Yorkers Named To 2023 BioSteel All-American Game Rosters

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By Warren Kozireski —

Ethan Whitcomb (Lockport), Drew Fortescue (Pearl River), Gavin McCarthy (Clarence Center), Tanner Adams (Northport) and Ryan Fine (Center Moriches) were all listed this week on rosters announced for the 2023 BioSteel All-American Game featuring Top Prospects for 2023 NHL Draft.

The game will be played Jan. 16 at4 p.m. at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.

Rosters for the event include a combination of players from the USHL along with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) Under-18 Team.

Whitcomb, a 6’4”, 192 lb. right wing is playing for Muskegon in the United States Hockey League this season where he had 11 goals and six assists over the first 20 games. He is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2023.

(Ethan Whitcomb)

Fortescue is a 6’3”, 170 lb. defenseman with the U.S. National Team Development Program with 13 assists in 28 games. He will play for Boston College in the fall.

(Drew Fortescue)

McCarthy is committed to Boston University next season. The 6’1”, 181 lb. defenseman has four goals with 18 points in 20 games in his second season at Muskegon in the USHL this season after three years with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres.

(Gavin McCarthy)

Adams is a Long Island Royals product who will play at Providence College in 2023. Now in his second year with Tri-City in the USHL, the 5’11”, 174 lb. forward has 13 points in 20 games.

(Tanner Adams)

And Fine is a teammate of Fortescue on the USNTDP where the 6’0”, 183 lb. forward has a combined 14 goals and 26 points in 39 games. He switched his college commitment to Harvard in October.

(Ryan Fine)

(Photos from USA Hockey National Development Program, Tri-City Storm and Muskegon Lumberjacks)