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Straighten the Crown: Stars shine bright

Beauts elevated to All Stars and international competitors

Buffalo Beauts defender Savannah Harmon during a game in Boston
Michelle Jay

Gold medals and Russians and All-Stars, oh my! It’s been an interesting ‘break’ for the Buffalo Beauts who haven’t faced an NWHL opponent since a 5-2 victory over the Boston Pride in a back-to-back weekend in Beantown. That pair of games was the team’s first action since two losses to the Minnesota Whitecaps on Oct. 27 and 28.

Despite the many (lenghty) breaks, the Beauts have kept busy. Members of the club competed for Team USA and Hockey Canada in the Four Nations Cup, bringing home gold and silver, respectively. Others spent the time checking out international competition in a four game series against the Russian women’s National team. Even with all of the action, there is little question that the team is ready to return to regular season action when they take home ice at HarborCenter to take on a much-improved Connecticut Whale team on December 8.

Red run in Canada

Tuesday night marked the final matchup in the series against Russia — arguably the third best women’s team in the world. Buffalo only won one of the four games.

Kelly Babstock, who is in her fourth season in the league and first with the Beauts, had herself a series with five points (two goals, three assists.) Corinne Buie led the team with three goals — four points overall. One of the best goals of the series, though, is this one from defender Sarah Casorso, who eased through the Russian zone like a hot knife through butter and greasily put the biscuit in the basket. The blueliner finished the series with two goals and an assist, leaving quite an impression on her home country.

Home to roost

While Buffalo was on the break, the US women’s national team announced its training roster. Emily Pfalzer and Dani Cameranesi were among those listed, as expected, but after being passed over for Four Nations, defender Savannah Harmon was once again selected for camp.

It’s an important presence; Harmon has not previously been a member of the US national team’s development program. She did not play on the U18 or U22 squad — she has earned her spot through exceptional performances in the NCAA and the pro ranks. It demonstrates that the professional game is meeting its mission. Players are continuing to develop and impress, garnering notice from international programs and expanding the sometimes tyrannosaurus rex-like reach of USA Hockey.

Hey now...you’re an all star

The Beauts are sending eight players to the All-Star game in Nashville, tied with Minnesota for the most representatives.

All-Star team captain Shannon Szabados, Blake Bolden, Savannah Harmon, and Hayley Scamurra will join forces with some of the league’s best players to take on Lisa Chesson, Emily Pfalzer, Nicole Hensley, and Dani Cameranesi on Lee Stecklein’s team, along with a host of incredible NWHLers.

The skills competition kicks off on Feb. 8 with the game taking place the following day. This marks the the second neutral location for the NWHL All-Star Game, with the last two taking place in the Pittsburgh Penguin’s practice arena in Cranberry Township, PA.

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Excitement is surely building as the league hits the meat of the season. The standings are packed tightly, and teams are beginning to gel. Second half excitement waits the patient fans who have endured the weeks off with a hefty mixture of hunger and patience. Saturday’s game against Connecticut will have a different tone than the first meeting between the clubs; the Whale are on something of a streak, taking five of six points from the defending Isobel Cup champions Metropolitan Riveters.