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716 Is More Than Just An Area Code




An identifiable code for much of the region of the Western part of New York State.

But it is also the simple name for a women’s senior hockey team just formed in the Buffalo area. And the person responsible for organizing the putting this team together is Maddie Norton.

Norton is no stranger to hockey, especially in the Western New York region. She played college hockey with the University of Buffalo’s ACHA team, where she was captain and the club’s vice president.

Maddie Norton when she played for UB

She operates Maddie Norton Sports Performance, designed to train athletes to become the best versions of themselves on and off the ice. Norton played pro hockey with the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL.

She has traveled around the United States as a hockey coach with Planet Hockey’s camps and clinics. She is currently an assistant coach with the DIII Hilbert College Women’s Hockey Team.

So why start a women’s senior hockey team?

“I was playing for a Rochester team that went to the C Nationals,” recalled the 25 year-old Norton. “I was travelling to Rochester every week from Buffalo, which was a bit far.

“So I began looking for something closer to home. I really felt that I hadn’t played competitively enough and I really felt that I needed to.

“Playing four years at UB wasn’t enough for me. My final year there was 2019.

“That’s when I got the idea to put together a team.”

Norton knew that there were other players in the area like her who wanted another chance to play competitive hockey.

“So I began going around Buffalo, searching for a bunch of girls that I had played with, both new and old,” commented the Buffalo native.  “We even ended up with a couple of players who had also played for the Beauts.

“I basically wanted to play some hockey again and have some fun doing it. So if I couldn’t play for someone else’s team, I would create my own team.”

Putting Team 716 together wasn’t as easy as expansion teams in the pro ranks do it. Norton didn’t have a defined pool of players to pick from.

Instead, she began a search process that wasn’t as easy as it looked on paper.

“I used social media, sending a generic message out that I was putting this team together and would you be interested in playing,” remembered Norton. “Our main goal was to go to Tampa (Fla.) in 2023 to compete in the Adult Hockey Nationals.

“All I ever asked was if this was something a player wanted to do, just let me know. I did have a list of people that I was going to ask.

“I just kept going down this list. Most of the people I contacted on that list said they could do it.

“This wasn’t easy. You have to do it all on your own. You’ve got to get everything together, managerial-wise.

“Getting players, getting jersey’s, getting ice time and paying for it all. It’s been a bit difficult, to say the least.”

But there is a silver lining to all of the hard work.

“We sent out some sponsorship letters to some local businesses,” stated Norton. “We have a Facebook page and we put it on there that we were looking for sponsors and donations.”

Several local businesses in the WNY area have contributed to Team 716. Later in the season there will be some fund raisers as well as a “Go Fund Me” page.

Besides Norton, other members of the team that have already played this season include: Courtney Cavarello, Nikki Kirchberger, Maddie Kromer, Kristen Spulecki, Frangelica Bautz.

Morgan Haettich, Kim Brown, Shelly Payne, Mikaela Ditonto, Jordan Buziak and Megan Delay. Four or five more players will join the team as the season progresses.

“While the sponsors and donors pay for a portion of the team’s costs, these players all have jobs and are paying a great deal of the expenses for playing hockey themselves,” concluded Norton. “They play for the love of the game.

“We’re going to aim for about 20 games this year with Tampa and the Nationals being our ultimate goal. This group just wants to compete and play hockey.”

(Photos By Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine; https://janetschultz.smugmug.com)

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