As we discard the wrapping paper from this year’s holidays, it is also time for The Ice Garden to wrap up 2017. Here are our highlights of the NWHL’s top moments of 2017.
Buffalo Beauts bought by the Pegulas
December 21 — Terry and Kim Pegula of Pegula Sports and Entertainment purchased the Buffalo Beauts, stating, “We believe this is the perfect time to expand our reach to include women’s professional hockey through the NWHL. This sport provides outstanding opportunities, and we are committed to helping extend those opportunities to females of all ages.” The Pegulas own the HarborCenter where the Beauts play and will now run the team’s operations.
Metropolitan Riveters partner with the New Jersey Devils
October 4 — The New York Metropolitan Riveters entered a three-year partnership with the New Jersey Devils. From rent-free facilities and ice time to providing girls’ development programs, the partnership (and rebranding) was the biggest news to break in the off-season for the NWHL.
Buffalo Beauts upset Boston Pride, win Isobel Cup
March 19 — The Buffalo Beauts upset the defending champions 3-2 in a winner-takes-all game at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts. In an exciting Isobel Cup Final that started with Manon Rhéaume dropping the puck, the play never let up as Buffalo scored three goals and hung on for the lead. Goalie Brianne McLaughlin got her fairy tale ending, retiring as an Isobel Champion and MVP; Harrison Browne also made history (again), becoming the first transgender athlete to win a professional championship in a team sport.
Pittsburgh hosts a sold-out All-Star Game
February 11 & 12 — The NWHL partnered with the Pittsburgh Penguins to showcase the best of the best from the NWHL. In front of a sold-out crowd at UMPC Mario Lemieux Sports Complex, players put their speed, trickery, and power on display during the Skills Competition, before battling it out in a hockey game between Team Kessel and Team Steadman. Team Kessel entered the foray with a 3-2 edge from the skills portion, and held on for a 11-10 victory.
NWHL focuses on the Future
One of the greatest stories to come from the NWHL camp this season has likely been overlooked by many - the NWHL added Hayley Moore to the front office in May. She was tapped for the duel role of Deputy Commissioner and Director of Player Development.
Why does this additional role matter? In the first season, the league relied heavily on recruiting players that have already graduated from college. In two draft cycles, only 40% of players have signed with an NWHL team (50% from 2015, 30% from 2016). Part of Moore’s role is connecting with NCAA teams to create awareness and open communication with an important recruiting pool.
Additionally, If Moore focusing on the NCAA pipeline and current player development has left Dani Rylan and other staffers free to take care of other business, then mission accomplished! (Refer to the first and second Top Moments)