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Straighten the Crown: It’s going down! Beauts’ December!

Big month for Buffalo has nearly turned the tables

Pat McCarthy

What’s up, Beauties?! When last we spoke, things were looking rather dim on the shores of Lake Erie. Buffalo was struggling through its usual early-season chaos, which led to a change behind the bench.

A month later, things look drastically different for Buffalo. The team has a new coach/general manager, and has been firing on all cylinders. Since November 17, when the team lost 4-1 on the opener of back-to-back games in Boston, the Beauts are 6-1, outscoring opponents 23-6. They have the best goal differential in the league with a plus-23.

Hot, hot, hot

Everything is coming up Beauts right now. In its first eight games, the team suffered from an absence of depth scoring and an utterly inept power play. The own the league’s longest winning streak (3), most shutouts in a season (4), best penalty kill, and second-best power play efficiency. Buffalo boasts the league’s top two goal scorers in Maddie Elia and Hayley Scamurra (9 each), who also happen to be the league’s best point scorers (16 and 17, respectively).

The goaltending, as predicted, has been the best in pro hockey - period. With a team goals against of 1.36 and save percentage of .945 - only about five out of every one hundred shots (5.6 percent) is beating the dynamic duo.

As the season heads toward the last quarter, it’s going to be difficult to find a way to slow them down as they traverse the rocky standings.

Blake is back, baby!

One of the most exciting signings of the offseason was inking defender Blake Bolden to a contract. The former Boston Pride standout and Isobel Cup champion took a year away from the league to compete in Europe before deciding to come to Buffalo.

There is little question that Bolden is one of the best defensive blueliners in the world, but it is her vision and cannon of a shot that set her apart from the crowd.

Bolden is starting to feel herself again, scoring her first goal as a Beaut on December 29, and piling on assists throughout the season. She has increased her scoring to .64 points per game - tied with Lisa Chesson for the best on the team among the defense.

Attrition, retirement be thy name

The Beauts have celebrated/lamented the loss of two skaters since the calendar flipped. The first was Sarah Edney, and the second was her defensive partner Sarah Casorso.

Both leave the team to pursue their professions, and while their pursuits are certainly admirable, there is little doubt that they will be missed on the blue line. This leaves the team with six rostered defenders, with Jacquie Greco and Jordyn Burns stepping into the lineup.

While Buffalo’s defense is clearly a key component to their success, loaded with talent and the ability to adhere to a system that has worked well all season, despite the team’s record.

Still, newly named general manager Cody McCormick will have his work cut out for him to find a replacement. If the team remains healthy, it may not be until the end of the college season before filling those holes in the roster.

***

Buffalo has a week off before getting back into action with the Boston Pride. It is a key game; Boston’s game against the Riveters was postponed, so Pride maintain a two point lead in the standings. A regulation win for Buffalo would obviously be ideal. The race to the top is starting to heat up and the Beauts are running out of time to secure home-ice throughout the playoffs.