Syracuse assistant coach and former Vanke Ray Claudia Kepler starts her PHF career by taking a two-and-a-half hour drive down the 90 into Amherst.
SIGNING NEWS: winger Claudia Kepler (@ClaudeKep24) has signed with the #Beauts for the rest of the ‘21-‘22 @PHF season. Claudia is an asst. coach for @CuseIce and won the ‘19-‘20 @whl_ru Championship with KRS— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) December 27, 2021
: @jsantalucia96 pic.twitter.com/CHn72TRMBT
The Wisconsin native and former Badger was announced as the latest signing for the Buffalo Beauts in a press release early Monday afternoon, bumping the roster back up to 23 after the departures of Brittany Colton and Lisa Chesson earlier in the season.
Yet another signing with international experience under her belt, Kepler played in the SDHL for HV71 as well as a season in China for KRS Vanke Rays before the COVID-19 pandemic moved them to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she won a WHL championship. From there, it was a brief stint with the PWHPA’s Minnesota contingent before accepting a job at ‘Cuse.
Just a brief look at her stats shows how Kepler can fit in with this team as a depth forward and scoring winger. She’s tallied 27 points in 35 games with HV71, 17 points in 24 games with Vanke,`proving she can produce on a regular basis. Unlike seasons prior, the Beauts are not necessarily hurting for goal scorers — but the more, the merrier, especially with Taylor Accursi’s injury status being unknown at this point.
In the press release announcing the signing, Kepler described herself as a power forward, bringing to mind former Beauts Jordan Juron and Emily Janiga. While the Beauts definitely can capitalize on their transition, they need help with maintaining puck control and breaking out of the zone, so it’ll be good to see how Kepler’s style of play factors into the mix if she can help drive the play forward and sustain pressure in the offensive zone.
General manager Nate Oliver, as he’s done with all his signings thus far, had a lot of positives for Kepler’s effect on a locker room:
Things will no doubt be a bit up in the air when it comes to where Kepler fits in the lineup come Jan. 8, when the Beauts face off against Boston. Still, one more weapon in the arsenal is going to be nothing but positive for Buffalo.