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Straighten the Crown: Gratified

Buffalo has a lot to be thankful for

Michelle Jay

Given the hostile environment the internet has become, it is increasingly important to take time to express one’s gratitude. For North America, it’s become a tradition to focus on gratitude in the harvest months, whether paying homage to our ancestors, or just plain giving thanks for what we have.

Anyone who takes the time to read this is undoubtedly thankful for the growth spurt women’s hockey has hit in the last decade. The popularity of the sport continues to snowball; an avalanche of awesome coming quickly down Mount Olympus, sweeping up fans, reporters, and more importantly, young athletes.

With that in mind, this edition of Straighten the Crown will give an appreciative look back at the last few months. Feel free to comment below with what you’re thankful for, or hit us up on social media.

Shannon Szabados

A hockey legend whose myth continues to grow. The 32-year old netminder brought two Olympic gold medals and one World Championship to the shores of Lake Erie when she signed with the Beauts – a deal that was two years in the making.

Despite two losses in her four games, Szabados is edging ever-closer toward the top spot in the league’s goaltending statistics. She trails Minnesota’s Amanda Leveille by slightly more than one-tenth of a percentage in save percentage and by .25 goals per game in goals against average. She faces nearly as many shots per game as Leveille – 24.75 to Lev’s 26.67, but has less scoring support; Minnesota averages 3.83 goals per game, and Buffalo 3.33.

It’s not every day that one gets to sit in their home arena and watch legendary goaltending. Buffalo fans get the opportunity several times a month. For Szabados, we are grateful.

Buffalo gals

Scamelia? Elmurra? I don’t know how to make one of those cool portmanteaus for the most dynamic scoring pair in the league, but Buffalo is definitely thankful for the duo. Graduates of the Queen City’s premier women’s hockey institution, Hayley Scamurra and Maddie Elia have taken the league by storm. The pair has 11 goals this season (six for Elia and five for Scamurra,) which is good enough for .92 goals per game, making them the top-scoring pair in North American women’s hockey.

Incredibly, Elia is the only Beaut to have a power play goal, which means that all of this scoring is occurring at even-strength. Behold, and be awed by the magical Elmurra. Bow to their prowess. Toss roses at their feet, for they have returned home to lead Buffalo to the promised land.

Eel communication

The Beauts, as a whole, are probably thankful for faceoffs. Driving possession, Buffalo’s team faceoff percentage is 56.9 – best in the league by 2.6 percent, and a full 25 percent better than Connecticut. Leading the team with a 67.7 percent success rate is Emily Janiga. Second is the team’s leading goal-scorer, Maddie Elia, with 61.2 percent.

Elia is the posterchild for efficiency. Second on the team in shots with 17, Elia leads the team with a 35.3 shooting percentage. With a 1.00 goals per game average, and a .92 even strength goals per game average, Elia is the model hockey player. Even if she’s a little rough around the edges.

You

Finally, I want to express my personal gratitude for all of you, dear readers. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for interacting, and thanks for being you. Here’s to another year of amazing highs, gut-wrenching lows, stories of incredible successes and lessons from failures. Much love, women’s hockey world, today and always.