Story and Photos by Janet Schultz, NYHOL
The Buffalo Beauts will kick-off their Eighth Season and call the Northtowns Center in Amherst home. Over the past few months General Manager Nate Oliver and Head Coach Rhea Coad have been searching and signing players that will have an impact on the team and hopefully lead them to the Isabel Cup.
The Beauts most recent signing is Summer-Rae Dobson who just completed her collegiate career with the University of Connecticut Huskies and four seasons prior with the Mercyhurst University Lakers. She has inked a two-year deal with the Beauts. After 162 games played she has a 51-57 record for 108 points.
Here’s a recap of the signings over the summer:
Michaela Boyle has signed a one-year contract with the Beauts after completing her college career with Boston College. Boyle played five seasons in the NCAA with Clarkson, Robert Morris University and most recently Boston College. In 118 NCAA games she posted 38 goals and 25 assists.
Veteran Forward Grace Klienbach has re-signed with the Buffalo Beauts for her second season and fifth in the PHF. She has been the recipient of two consecutive PHF Foundation Awards for her positive outreach in the community through hockey. She played in all 20 regular season games plus the single play-off game last season for the Beauts.
A premiere goaltender has been added to the roster with Kassidy Sauve from Finland’s HPK. She went undefeated for Finland in eight regular season games along with a 0.88 goals-against average and .964 save percentage.
The Beauts have signed Nazareth College stand-out Madi Nichols to a one-year contract. Nichols led the Golden Flyers in scoring for the past two seasons. She had 13 multipoint games in 2021-2022 with her best being a 5 point night against Neumann College with 2 goals and 3 assists.
Returning to the Beauts for a second season is Anjelica Diffendal, a seventh round draft pick in 2021 and the Rookie who led the Team in points and plus/minus last season.
Autumn MacDougall returns for her third season after being selected in the 2020 draft as the 14th overall selection. MacDougall’s 14 points in 20 games were tops for the Beauts in both offensive categories this past season. She had a 7 game point streak in January and February when she had 8 points in seven consecutive Beauts games.
Winger Claudia Kepler, a proven scorer signed a two-year contract with the Beauts after having 3 goals on 13 shots last season.
Cassidy MacPherson signed up for a fourth straight season with the Beauts and returns as the Team’s 2022 Unsung Hero after a 6 goals/14 assists record in 5 games played.
The Beauts made a big splash by signing two-time Olympian Emma Nuutinen to a one year contract. The Bronze medalist for Team Finland is a seven-time member of the Finnish Women’s National Team and is 2-1-3 for scoring in 12 Olympic contests between 2014 and 2018.
Antonia Matzka has signed on with the Beauts after playing on the Austrian National Women’s Team and graduating from the University of Vermont this past June. In addition to playing for the NCAA Catamounts, she also played for the Holy Cross Crusaders and with the EWHL. During her NCAA career she posted 10 goals, 30 assists and 80 penalty minutes.
Jenna Suokko was the first Finnish player to register a point and score a goal in the PHF last season. The Winger is in her 12th season as a professional hockey player, her second in North America. Previously she played for Finland’s Naisten Liga where she scored 94 goals and 95 assists in 191 games. She also represented Finland at three different Women’s World U18 Championships.
Allison Attea, a local favorite from the WNY area, has re-signed for a second season with the Beauts. She played 111 games with Holy Cross posting a 8-12 record for 20 points. She comes from the Monsignor Martin Team of the WNYGVIH Federation. Known as a stay-at-home defender, Attea led Holy Cross in blocks. She played in 16 of the 20 PHF games for the Beauts last season, out for four with an injury.
Goaltender Lovisa Berndtsson has re-signed for her second year with Buffalo and 16th season as a professional hockey player. She previously played for the Swedish Women’s National Team for three seasons. Berndtsson tended the goal for the Beauts in 20 games last season.
Courtney Maud was the first signing from the 2022 graduating class, coming from Merrimack College where she was Team Captain. This will be her first season in the professional ranks after posting 19 goals and 23 assists in 145 NCAA games.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the PHF is returning to Buffalo after a two-year gig in Toronto, after playing for Buffalo late in the 2019-29 season. She posted 13 goals and 17 assists in 19 games and finished the season as a solid +25 for plus/minus and averaged 1.58 points per game last season.
Jess Healey has signed on with the Beauts bringing a strong blue line addition to the team. She was one of the best defenders in Sweden’s SDHL through the 2021 season. She has signed a two-year deal with the Beauts.
Dominique Kremer returns to Buffalo with a two-year contract after leading the PHF in goals by a defender in 2021-22. Originally drafted by the Connecticut Whale, she has played her entire pro career with the Buffalo Beauts. She began playing professionally in Sweden. Her college career was with Merrimack College where she scored 15 goals, 41 assists in 138 NCAA games.
Buffalo’s Erin Gehen informed the Beauts that she will be retiring after playing three seasons for the Beauts and serving as alternate captain last season. Gehen posted 8 goals and 9 assists after playing 45 regular season games. In the NCAA she scored 112 goals and 77 assists for 189 points in just 71 career games for Buffalo State College. She led the WNYGVIH Federation in scoring. She is continuing her career as Associate Director of Athletics for Elmira College and as a volunteer coach for their women’s ice hockey team.
The Buffalo Beauts named Jeff State an assistant coach. He is a native of Hamburg, NY. He played three seasons of junior hockey with the Omaha Lancers and Dubuque Fighting Saints, He also played for the OJHL Burlington Cougars and two seasons with Merrimack College. He finished his pro career after the 2007-08 season with the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Edinburgh Capitals in Scotland and the ECHL Elmira Jackals.
Several Buffalo Beauts were recipients of PHF awards this season including Elena Orlando and Dominique Kremer, with Orlando receiving the Denna Lang Award and Kremer named Defender of the Year. Cassidy Vinkle too a second star while Grace Klienbach received one of the PHF Foundation Awards.
Carly Jackson was named Goaltender of the Year and Angelica Diffendal was named Newcomer of the Year.
The PHF has appointed four-time Olympian gold medalist from the Canadian Women’s National Hockey Team Melody Davidson as director of League and Hockey Operations. A pioneer in women’s hockey, Davidson served as head coach with Cornell University’s women’s hockey team.
In the PHF:
…The PHF has expanded once more and welcomes Montreal to the League. The team will play in the upcoming season and is the seventh franchise in the PHF. Leadership for the new organization includes President Kevin Raphael and Vice President Emmanuel Anderson with a partnership agreement with Centre 21.02, a high performance hockey center.
Montreal’s team name and logo will be announced in the weeks to come, along with the naming of the coaching staff and roster.
…Jim Pfeifer has been named PHF chief marketing officer after working with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA where he served as vice president of corporate partnerships since 2019.
…The PHF has announced a new salary disclosure policy that applies to all signed player contracts for this season. The policy gives players the option to allow for their salary to be disclosed publicly by their team and the PHF when signing a standard player agreement. A detailed press release can be found at the premierehockeyfederation.com website.
…The Minnesota Whitecaps are relocating from TRIA Arena to the Richfield Ice Arena in Richfield MN.