A long year is over and more normalcy seems to be here, especially with ice hockey. NY Hockey Online is back for another season covering all the ice hockey in New York State from grassroots to the NHL and NWHL. This season we also have the 2022 Winter Olympics.
So let’s take a look at the NWHL. When I started to write this column I was talking about the NWHL; overnight I receive a press release announcing that the NWHL is now the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) and will have a new look, new logo but same mission. So I apologize in advance if I slip and type NWHL.
According to the release The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) re-defines the league’s brand based on the skill and talent of its athletes as opposed to their gender, and is the first professional women’s sports league in North America to lift the word ‘women’s’ out of its title.
The PHF name was inspired by empowerment, gender equity and inclusivity with respect to differences in the gender identity of current athletes, prospective players, and league stakeholders. Expansion across the United States, into Canada, and the increase of international talent also helped pave the way for a rebrand with global appeal.
Along with the new logo, updated social media links, digital components and merchandise will be coming forth in the next few weeks.
Secondly, the Buffalo Beauts (and Minnesota Whitecaps) have been sold by W Hockey Partners (WHP). The new owner is NLTT Ventures, LLC, an entity that combines NL Sports, led by Andy Scurto, and Top Tier Sports, led by Neil Leibman.
Scurto and Leibman have both been involved in the NWHL for several years as WHP investors. Scurto, a member of the league’s Board of Governors, most recently served as WHP President. He’s the founder and former President of San Jose-based insurance software firm ISCS. Leibman, also a member of the Board of Governors, is an original member of the ownership group that purchased the Texas Rangers in 2010 and currently serves as the team’s President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer. Scurto will serve as Governor for the Beauts. The 2020-21 season was one for the record books. Following a no season 2020-21 went into a “Bubble” in Lake Placid with a series of games schedule leading to the Isobel Cup Final. As you all know, they didn’t make it to the finals. The Pandemic made its way into the League and the season ended with no Champion.
A full schedule is planned for 2021-22 with 60 games in 19 weeks. The season begins with Buffalo hosting Toronto on November 6. Highlight this season will be an outdoor game February 21 at Riverworks with Buffalo facing Toronto. Tickets for that game are on sale at NWHL.zone/tickets.
With the signing of two players this past month Buffalo has 23 players ready to hit the ice for a training camp later this month.
Emilie Hartley, a first round 2021 draftee comes from Robert Morris College and is a native of Syracuse.
Jenna Suokko, plays offense and comes from the Finland Naisten Lege. Suokko has scored 116 goals, 107 assists and 223 points in 249 games in Finland’s Naisten Liiga. She became a bronze medalist at the 2011 IIHF Women’s U18 World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden. This will be her first professional season in North America.
Grace Klienbach played three seasons for Connecticut Whale, signing with Buffalo as a free agent. She was an assistant captain with Neumann College’s women’s ice hockey team.
Allison Attea, a familiar name in WNY as she is a Buffalo native who played at Holy Cross College. In 2016 she was a WNY Scholar Athlete, attended Sacred Heart Academy and played in the Monsignor Martin team in the WNYGVIH League in her sophomore year and then moved to Nichols School for her junior and senior years.
Lovisa Berndtsson will join Buffalo after playing 14 years professional hockey in Sweden. The native of Stockholm, Sweden became the first player in NWHL history to be chosen in the league’s International Draft when the Beauts selected her first overall. Berndtsson, a goaltender, has spent the past 14 seasons playing professional-level hockey in Sweden, including the past eight seasons in the SDHL. She has also represented Sweden at the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Missy Seagall became the first player in NWHL history to be drafted out of Hamilton College. Segall scored 25 goals, 26 assists and 51 points in 76 games. Prior to her collegiate career at Hamilton, she played three seasons for the Boston Junior Eagles. Her Senior year at Hamilton was canceled due to Covid-19.
Taylor Wasyek has signed on for her second season with the Beauts. She signed on to the team while they were in Lake Placid. She serves as Head Coach for the Suffolk University Women’s Ice Hockey Team and played on the USA Womens team that took the silver in 2012.
Kennedy Ganser is from Alberta, Canada. The former star at the University of Alberta was the 13th player selected in the 2021 NWHL Draft and Buffalo’s first of three straight selections in the third round. Ganser went 34-51-85 for scoring in 112 U Sports games for the Pandas during her collegiate career.
Samantha Fieseler has signed with the Beauts after a season with the Riveters. Prior to that she played professionally for Göteborg HC in Sweden’s SDHL.
Brittany Colton comes to the Beauts from the University of Maine. She signed on while the team was in Lake Placid and saw action in six games.
Anjelica Diffendal played for Robert Morris College and the Pittsburg Pen Elites and is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa. She has 26 goal and 16 assists in 122 games.
Taylor Accursi, a Buffalo Fan Favorite, is returning for her fifth season as a Beaut. She served as Captain and had 52 points last season.
Domenique Kremer will return for her second season as a Beaut. She was drafted by the Whale in 2015 and played in Sweden prior to the NWHL.
Lisa Chesson will begin her fifth season in Buffalo. She served as Assistant Captain last season and was a member of the 206-17 Isobel Cup winning team. She also was a member of USA National Womens team won the gold in the Worlds 2009 and 2013.
Amy Budde is a native of Minnesota and played her professional hockey in Sweden with the SDHL. The Lake Forest University graduate signed as a free agent.
Emma Keenan brings her defensive skills to Buffalo from Clarkson University and two seasons with the SDHL in Goteborg. Last seasons’ campaign saw Kremer join the Beauts after she had led all Djurgårdens defenders in scoring (5-11-16) during the 2019-20 SDHL season.
Autumn MacDougall, a top scorer for the Beauts last season, has returned.
Buffalo native Erin Gehen has re-signed with the Beauts for her third season. Gehen will be playing her third season for the Beauts. A native from the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca, she has routinely brought speed and a scoring touch to the Beauts lineup. In 30 NWHL regular season games, Gehen has tallied 7 goals, 9 assists and 16 points across her two previous seasons for Buffalo. Gehen achieved numbers of 54-41-95 in 103 games at Buffalo State College, and is the program’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points, shorthanded goals, and games played. She also was a standout player in the WNYGVIH League.
Caty Flagg served as Buffalo’s backup goalie in 2020-21 as an NWHL rookie. She dressed in all six regular season games in Lake Placid and saw her first professional action in a Jan. 31 contest against the Boston Pride. Flagg stopped nine of the 11 shots she faced after coming in as relief in her lone game of the season. She went 24-28-11 in her collegiate career split between the University of New England and UMass-Boston, and posted career numbers of a 1.92 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.
Cassidy MacPherson is returning for her third season as a major player on the penalty killing unit and in centering. She is a graduate of Providence College and played her junior hockey with the Oakville Hornets in the Provencial Womens Ice Hockey League.
Returning for her second season is Goalie Carly Jackson. She played in all six games in Lake Placid last season facing 40 or more shots in three of those games. She is the recipient of the 2021 Fan Three Stars Award.
Cassidy Vinkle comes from Clarkson University after winning two national championships with the Golden Knights. She is an assistant coach with New England College. The native of Belleville, Ontario also played for the Whitby Wolves.
Defender and Alternate Captain Marie Jo Pelletier is returning for her third season with the Beauts. She is a native of Dalhouse, New Brunswich and played for the University of New Hampshire. She holds multiple league and team records. She has played in 30 career regular season games for the team, and has gone 6-18-24 in scoring. Pelletier needs just two more points to surpass Emily Matheson as the Beauts all-time scoring leader for defenders.
Some new faces behind the Bench include Shane Madolora who will serve as Goalie Coach. Madolora is the owner and founder of Madolora Consulting and Developmental Hockey. He played three seasons for RIT and then became their goaltending coach. He also has played in the CHL, ECHL, SPHL and in France, England and Italy.
Mark Zarbo will serve as an assistant coach for the second season. He is the owner of Mark Zarbo Hockey and played for Bently and RPI.
Julia DiTondo will return has the special assignments coach. She goaltended for the Beauts in 2017-18 and 2018-19. DiTondo is also a local product after having played for Nichols School and then went to Mercyhurst. She also coaches field hockey and lacrosse.
Chris Baudo is the most recent addition to the hockey staff. Baudo will serve as the video/analytics coach and is currently the original Head Coach for Women’s Ice Hockey at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, where he has recorded 33 wins, 7 losses and 3 ties in three years. He is a native of Tonawanda and graduated from Hamilton College.
Head Coach Rhea Coad was named to that position in March 2021. She served as associate coach in 2020-21 and assistant coach since 2018. She is a native of Wheatfield and graduate of SUNY Canton.
The Beauts open at home on November 6 at 7 p.m. against the Toronto Six. Toronto is in its second season of the League. Home games will be played at the Northtowns Center in Amherst.
The Beauts are also looking for volunteers to work the games in various capacities. If interested contact Manager Nate Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org