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Darkangelo, Steadman shine in Beauts’ season opener

Buffalo split weekend games between Pride and Whale

Goaltender Brianne McLaughlin and new Beauts forward Shiann Darkangelo were two bright spots for Buffalo during opening weekend.
Al Saniuk

Last year, it took the Beauts a while to get a win on home ice under their belts. This season, things are a bit different -- they split their opening weekend with a loss to Boston, but a comeback win against their old foe the Connecticut Whale.

Now that the weekend is over, it’s time to take a look back and see what kind of shape the Beauts are in this year. Some revelations after the two games:

The dynamic goaltending duo

Ric Seiling and Craig Muni each spoke separately to the benefit of having two goalies who can win on any given night in Amanda Leveille and Brianne McLaughlin. After McLaughlin got pulled for Leveille on Saturday, Seiling praised Leveille's efforts during the final period, citing her composure and willingness to attack the puck as positives.

Meanwhile, McLaughlin rebounded in relief for Leveille during the third period of Sunday's game, including an incredible toe save on Kelly Babstock. Muni said he thought she played "steady" and gave the Beauts a chance to win, adding that Leveille (along with most of the other new players) has a fast and short learning curve to make it over through the course of the season.

Rock Steady

Kelley Steadman's two-goal effort Sunday marked the fifth multi-goal game of her career -- and she's only played 14 games in the NWHL including postseason. Dominance? Safe to say so.

Best quote of the night? Steadman was told she seemed to have a limited number of moves in her on-ice arsenal, but that it was okay because Kelli Stack only had one more than she did. Her response? "Nah, she only has one move -- the telegraph." Burn of the season and it's only the second game.

Rookies bring new energy

With it being Opening Weekend and all, there were plenty of firsts -- including Shiann Darkangelo's first two points as a Beaut, plus Emily Janiga and Anne Schleper earning their first NWHL career points. Schleper earned her first assist on the tying power-play goal by Kourtney Kunichika in the third period, while Janiga tallied a goal and an assist.

But even with the newcomers having a strong game, Buffalo still has not managed to beat the Pride in regulation, a trend stretching back to last season. Their lone win against them came in overtime on January 3. Meanwhile, their win Sunday was the first of its kind during the regular season against Connecticut.

New team, same Darkangelo

There was plenty of love for Darkangelo during Sunday's post-game scrum. Muni called her a "steady influence with our players... She's confident on the ice, she's confident with the puck, she makes good plays. It gives her centerman, Emily Janiga, who's new to the league, a chance to play with someone of that skill and that caliber, so her [Janiga's] game has come up as quickly as any of the new people."

Steadman also praised her linemate and PK partner: "She's awesome. She's obviously a leader, she's vocal, she's experienced. She's got a great shot. It's fun to play with her. I'm glad we got to be on a line there for a little while."

Darkangelo herself had a lot of good to say about playing in Buffalo: "It's awesome. Everyone's been really welcoming here so far. The team's been awesome, so it's been a smooth transition."

The Beauts are back at it Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against the Boston Pride, on the road. Watch via NWHL Cross-Ice Pass on YouTube (free streaming service).