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Buffalo Beauts Could Surprise This Season

A 2-1 shootout loss is more impressive than you might think

Buffalo Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin makes a close range save on Boston Pride forward Zoe Hickel at the Warrior Ice Arena in Boston on October 15, 2016.
Photo by Al Saniuk

The Buffalo Beauts faced the reigning Boston Pride for the second time this season. Looking to upset Boston’s home opener and banner ceremony, Buffalo’s GM Ric Seiling mentioned that his team had unfinished business.

Buffalo will have to wait for another chance to defeat the Pride, as Boston won the five-round shootout for a final score of 2-1.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, with which the Beauts are all too familiar, the Beauts should feel positive about the game they played. The Pride had scored ten goals in their last two games, but the Beauts held them to only one in regulation time.

One woman show

The main reason that the Beauts were able to stay in the game for so long was because of goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. Facing 42 shots, McLaughlin put the team on her shoulders once again. The only goal she let in was an impossible save, and one that the goal post nearly made for her. Instead, luck had Jordan Smelker’s shot hitting the post and bouncing into the net.

Despite splitting time with Beauts goalie Amanda Leveille in the first two games, McLaughlin proved irreplaceable in the tight game with Boston. As the Pride kept sustained pressure in the zone, McLaughlin never wavered, making remarkable saves on hard shots by the likes of Brianna Decker and Alex Carpenter.

Even in the shootout, as she faced Team USA bearing down at her, McLaughlin’s confidence in net kept the Beauts’ hopes of winning alive. Unfortunately, McLaughlin could only bail her team out for so long, failing to stop the puck in the last round of the shootout.

Turnovers hurt

The reason McLaughlin had such a chance to shine was because she was tested so frequently. When compared to Pride goalie Brittany Ott’s seventeen shots faced, it is easy to see which team had possession most.

The Beauts need to work on cleaning up their passes and clears. Throughout the game, unnecessary turnovers caused the defense to scramble and stay on the ice for exceedingly long shifts. There were turnovers directly behind McLaughlin’s net, bad passes right in the slot and pucks that never made it out of their own zone; as we all know, turnovers belong on plates, not the ice.

Especially when facing a team with as much depth as the Pride, the Beauts cannot afford to spend all their time in their own zone. They managed to score once on seventeen shots. With efficiency that high, if they could get in the offensive zone to actually shoot the puck, more goals will happen.

Acquisitions paying off

While the Beauts lost their captain Meghan Duggan to the Pride, they picked up more than enough offensive skill to handle the loss. By poaching Shiann Darkangelo from the Connecticut Whale, the Beauts first line has added speed and skill.

Throughout the game, Darkangelo was able to handle errant passes and drive through the zone, frequently on a one-woman mission. She made the most of her opportunities and chances, scoring the tying goal on the Beauts’ powerplay.

Additionally, signing Emily Janiga from Mercyhurst has provided Buffalo the one-two punch behind Darkangelo. Speedy and crafty, Janiga has cemented her spot on the Beauts roster.

While Darkangelo and Janiga made their presence known, Kelley Steadman’s absence was felt throughout the game. The big surprise of last season, Steadman is now on the Beauts’ roster full-time. Still, with other commitments, Steadman was unable to bring her scoring power and energy to the table this time around.

Nonetheless, the Beauts have added more finesse to their team, but kept their character of grit and hard work. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back in their next game.