FanPost

Burgmania & Women's Hockey

Hello, friends. I'm Ryan, and this is the story of how I came to like women's hockey. I was (and to this day am still) a big fan of the overall sport. Living in Buffalo, there's so much of it (from the Sabres - to Canisius, Niagara, and even RIT close by + UB's club teams) . . . but there wasn't a lot of higher-profile women's hockey.

That changed in January 2015. I serve as the public address announcer and DJ for several of the aforementioned teams (Canisius, the Jr. Sabres, and UB's club teams), and I was asked to work in the same capacity for the 2015 IIHF Women's World Under-18 Championships, held at HARBORCENTER here in downtown Buffalo. I remember thinking after the first day (which included a USA-CAN match): "Wow. These girls can FLY. This is awesome!" I was drawn to the speed, the skill, and the camaraderie shown by the clubs.

It made me wish for a higher level of the sport for these awesome women - why couldn't they get paid just like the men do?

Well, in 2015, my wish came true. The National Women's Hockey League was formed, with teams in Boston, Connecticut, New York City, and . . . Buffalo. As soon as I heard that the Beauts were really a thing, I started asking around to see who they were thinking of for their PA/DJ person.

It ended up being me . . . and, oh what fun these Beauts games are. When Kelley "Rock Steady" Steadman scored the Beauts' first goal in team history that first game, that was the loudest I've heard HARBORCENTER since Jincy Dunne scored in OT to give the United States the gold medal in those '15 U18s. The team never gives up, as seen multiple times throughout the league's two-year history. I'm talking multiple multi-goal comebacks here.

Case in point: in the 2015-16 season, the Connecticut Whale came into Buffalo and went up big - I'm talking five or six goals in the first 25 minutes of the game. Wouldn't you know, the Beauts pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and tied the game by the time the second period was over. (They ended up losing in a shootout, but by far one of the most entertaining games I've worked).

In April 2016, I had the honor of traveling to Newark, NJ to present the NWHL's inaugural Isobel Cup Final. Although the Beauts bowed out in two games, it was awesome to see the packed stands at the Baranbas Health Hockey House, as well as to introduce Lady Isobel to the world. While I watched Boston celebrate, I knew that the Beauts would be back . . . and the 2016-17 season saw Buffalo be a part of several milestones.

The fanfare kicked off with the NWHL holding their opening weekend in Buffalo, and the season kicked off with a bang - the Beauts' Harrison Browne announced that he's transgender. I was so proud of the crowd at the Beauts' home opener who cheered their butts off when Brownie scored on that shorthanded breakaway. He ended up being an All-Star this year! That was icing on the cake, considering the result of the Isobel Cup Final: a 3-2 Buffalo WIN.

I've also worked the past two College Hockey America conference tournaments. College hockey is the main pipeline to the NWHL, and it was great to see Emily Janiga in a Mercyhurst sweater one year and a Beauts sweater the net year.

Working in women's hockey has opened my eyes. I just have one request for all of you: Support these awesome athletes. Go to Beauts, Pride, Whale, and Riveters games. Go to women's college hockey games. If your daughter wants to play hockey, let her.

Who knows . . . I might end up calling her name someday. Until next time, take care of yourselves - and each other.