Is it any surprise that the NWHL’s first-ever Rookie of the Year Award winner is also The Ice Garden’s NWHL Top Rookie?
Hayley Scamurra made quite the first impression when she joined Buffalo’s lineup for the final regular season game of the 2016-17 season. She scored a goal in her debut and picked up three more points in the 2017 Isobel Cup Playoffs. And Scamurra did all of that after finishing a 37-game senior NCAA season at Northeastern University.
Those three games had Beauts fans excited for what a full year of Scamurra would look like, especially after the retirement of Kelley Steadman. Like the rest of the Beauts, Scamurra got off to a bit of a slow start, but ultimately she did not disappoint.
Scamurra didn’t score her first goal of the 2017-18 season until Nov. 18, but once she started lighting the lamp she didn’t stop. The breakout star scored seven goals in her last 11 games of the season and finished second in the NWHL with 63 shots on goal. Scamurra put seven or more shots on goal in four games this year; including a span of 24 shots in three games.
That three game onslaught came in the new year just as the Beauts’ fortunes began to change. From January forward Scamurra averaged a staggering 5.63 shots per game and piled up nine points in eight games. To say that she had a hand in the Beauts’ 11-game winning streak would be an understatement.
Scamurra was the spark that transformed Buffalo’s entire offense mid-season.
More than half of Scamurra’s points came in the second half of the season during the Beauts’ unbelievable run following the team’s change in ownership. She finished the regular season tied with linemate Kourtney Kunichika as Buffalo’s team leader in points. Scamurra also led all rookie skaters in goals and primary points despite missing two games.
The rookie winger was dangerous both with and without the puck regardless of how many skaters Buffalo had on the ice. Scamurra was the only NWHL forward to score an even strength goal, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal in the 2017-18 season. In addition to her seven goals she also showed a knack for setting up teammates; Scamurra had five primary assists at even strength for Buffalo.
As if her play during the regular season wasn’t enough Scamurra was also the co-MVP of the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game. She scored three goals for Team Ott — all at even strength. Perhaps even more impressively, Scamurra was one of just two skaters to score for Team NWHL against Team USA on Jan. 15. Her first period goal in game two gave Team NWHL its only lead of the series. It was also something of a statement; evidence of the talent still skating on NWHL ice while the national team prepared for PyeongChang.
The women’s hockey world took notice of Scamurra’s exceptional play this year. In addition to being an All-Star, she was also named the NWHL’s first-ever Rookie of the Year and was one of the NWHL Fans’ Three Stars of the Season.
Scamurra’s rookie performance was truly outstanding. It’s hard to project where her ceiling is because her role with Buffalo is so different from the role she played at Northeastern. Call her a sniper, call her a playmaker, call her anything you want — it won’t change the fact that Scamurra is a must-watch player and one of the NWHL’s brightest young stars.