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Straighten the Crown: Lower the boom in Saskatoon

Beauts hit quarter mark with some things to work on.

Beauts Dani Cameranesi scores on Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille.
Kristin Ostrowski

If there were one word to describe how fans might feel about the Buffalo Beauts, it is probably ‘SIGH.’ It is quite appropriate; after two straight shutouts, Buffalo relinquished five goals over two games to the mid-west juggernaut, the Minnesota Whitecaps.

In what should have been the premier matchups of the early season, it seemed that the rolling Whitecaps had an answer for nearly all of Buffalo’s strengths. If there is any solace that can be taken from the back-to-back losses, it is that the team continues to pepper opponents’ netminders, sending 71 shots on Amanda Leveille. Leveille played like the defending goaltender of the year, allowing only three goals all weekend.

As the team prepares to head to Boston after the two week break for another weekend of back-to-back action , there is a lot at stake for the Beauts, who will certainly need to focus on a few things in order to straighten the crown.

Three at Four

Buffalo will be sending key players as the women travel with the national team to compete in the Four Nations Cup in Saskatoon, Canada. The tournament is a homecoming of sorts for international legend Shannon Szabados, while her professional teammates Emily Pfalzer and Dani Cameranesi will seek to defend the title from the Canadian netminder.

Team USA and Hockey Canada have wound up in the championship matchup in nearly every iteration of the competition since its inception. This epic battle for hockey supremacy rolls on from Nov. 6-11, and a rematch of last year’s Olympic gold medal game is the anticipated finals matchup again this year.

Team USA has brought home the trophy for the last five years, but Buffalo fans have a reason to cheer no matter the outcome of the 2018 tourney.

Spread it around

Of Buffalo’s 35 points on the season, the Scamurra-Elia-Cameranesi line has posted 18 - more than 50 percent of the team’s production.

The line will be broken up this weekend with Cameranesi’s national team responsibilities. Scamurra and Elia will likely continue to put the puck in the net, but the disparity in scoring highlights a team weakness.

In order to beat teams like Minnesota and Boston, the remaining forward lines are going to have to pump up production. Hopefully the skaters have begun to develop some chemistry after four games and a month of practices. Buffalo will certainly need them in two weeks against the Pride.

Oh-fer

The Beauts remain scoreless on the power play this season - an incredible feat given the impressive output the team has been capable of.

While there it is a point of pride to be so efficient at even strength, those special teams points add up in close games like the pair of one-goal losses the team suffered last weekend.

The power play is going to have to give itself a boost, and the sooner, the better. It would be ideal for the team to start trending upward when play resumes, before the squad begins to fall in the standings.

It’s an important set of games for Buffalo, who hold a precious one point lead, with one game in hand. It’s early in the season, of course, but getting to four wins will be key in order to keep pace with the Whitecaps. The team finishing in first place will get a bye in the playoffs in the spring, and the Beauts do not want to watch that opportunity pass them by before the halfway mark.