Beauts’ Kelley Steadman hangs up the skates

The recent Isobel Cup champion retires to pursue a coaching career at her alma mater.

One of the most dynamic players in the brief history of the National Women’s Hockey League is calling it quits.

The Buffalo Beauts’ Kelley Steadman has retired from professional hockey, according to a press release from the NWHL Thursday morning. The news of the forward’s retirement comes shortly after her announcement that she had gotten a new assistant coaching position at Mercyhurst University, her alma mater in Erie, Pennsylvania where she earned CHA Player of the Year and top scorer in 2011-12.

Her two-year NWHL career came with plenty of firsts. She scored the Buffalo Beauts’ first-ever goal in regular competition, plus the first-ever goal of an All-Star Game. She also received two All-Star nods, earning a captain’s role in this past season’s festivities in Pittsburgh. Steadman closes out her career in the NWHL with 33 points in 25 games played (20 goals, 13 assists) and two trips to the Isobel Cup Final, including the Beauts’ win over the Boston Pride in 2016-17.

Beauts co-head coach and general manager Ric Seiling had plenty of praise for one of his top players in the press release:

Kelley was an integral part of not only the Beauts’ Isobel Cup title in March, but of our instant popularity in Buffalo. In our first year, we were not the strongest in scoring, and she would take that burden and become the most prolific goal scorer in the NWHL. In the Cup Final, we saw her style of playing change to what championships are made of: shot-blocking, grit and composure as well as talking on the bench, giving direction to her teammates. The Buffalo Beauts were honored to have Kelley Steadman on our teams in our first two seasons. Good luck, Steady.

Prior to the NWHL, Steadman had earned two other championships, one with the Boston Blades (CWHL) in 2012-13, and the other in Russia as part of the EWHL’s Moscow Tornado the year following.

Steadman made it clear in a personal statement that at her age (she turns 27 in less than two weeks), she feels she can still play, but it’s rather a shift in focus she feels is necessary to keep going:

I love growing the game and making an impact on the lives of girls and young women and Mercyhurst is the perfect place for me to step in and make a difference. I will miss everything about getting ready for game day as a player, but I'm sure I will have just as much excitement getting ready for a game as a coach. Plus, I plan to play in some killer men's league games.

She also called her years with the Beauts “arguably... the most enjoyable of [her] hockey career,” adding, “I can’t say enough good things about my teammates and I’m so happy to go down in history with them.”

(For the full statement and press release, click here.)

Although Buffalo has made some signings of late, including (ironically) two players from Mercyhurst, this announcement comes as a big blow. Steadman actually played less as a rostered player than as a practice player in 2015-16, but her presence was always felt on the ice. She was a physical presence as well as a skilled one, adding strength on the puck, and also did well on special teams. Even in eight games played last season, she still scored 10 points, proving her scoring touch never really went away. She also became a fan favorite for her play, with hashtags such as #RockSteady honoring the power forward.

Long story short, she’ll definitely be missed on the Beauts and likely throughout the league, and we here at The Ice Garden wish her well. Best of luck to Kelley!

Stay tuned for more news and info on the Beauts’ moves as the summer progresses.