On Jan 20, the Buffalo Beauts will return to the HarborCenter to face the Connecticut Whale in a bid for the team’s fourth consecutive victory. The team is over .500 for the first time this season and looking to put important distance between themselves and the third place Boston Pride, who have a tough task against the undefeated Metropolitan Riveters.
Buffalo is coming off of a 4-3 win which saw the team overcame the absence of four of its top players. Captain Corinne Buie joined linemate Jess Jones, power forward Hayley Scamurra and defender Sarah Edney in Tampa for a series of friendlies against Team USA in advance of the Olympic Games. The team’s incredible depth was on full display, with Kourtney Kunichika, Taylor Accursi, and Maddie Elia all padding their points stats, continuing to lead the team.
As the team attempts to solidify its position in second place, here’s what you need to know:
The Gang’s All Here
It was a fruitful visit to Florida for the crew, with Scamurra scoring a goal in the second game of the series. Team NWHL played admirably against one of the world’s most powerful teams, and the competition revealed some weaknesses in the American’s strategies. Hopefully Team USA can get it figured out in time to take home the gold.
The win over the Whale was a return to center for the Beauts, who were outshot through the game and allowed two third period goals. At the same time, the team’s astounding depth came through, scoring four goals without the aid of key forwards and the only blueliner to have scored through the midway point of the season. It was a key win for Buffalo, who is riding high on the confidence of their current win streak.
Lock it Down
The Beauts have a dangerous tendency to abandon the front of the net when things get hairy in the defensive zone. This allows teams unchecked whacks at free pucks and puts netminder and All-Star captain Amanda Leveille in a precarious position.
The team needs to keep its structure and stop chasing the puck. Coaches Ric Seiling and Craig Muni have worked with the team on defensive positioning and it is important that the team carry these lessons into the game. Clean up the crease, tie up sticks, and end the loose pucks in front. This will minimize both shots and high-danger opportunities.
Play it Again, Lev
Leveille has been more confident playing the puck, and it is a dynamic that teams may not have recognized. It is an important part of Buffalo’s transition – especially when a dump-in is deployed for the purposes of a line change. A quick swing up the ice can cause chaos and odd-skater rushes, which Buffalo LOVES to try to take advantage of.
The team needs to handle this new aspect to the game properly. Get to the boards and get the puck to center ice. Two or three passes into the zone can spring a featured puck handler like Elia, Scamurra, or Kristin Lewicki, and the results could really help to level the playing field once Buffalo faces the Riveters again.
As always, Jeff Boyd and the 716 Sports Podcast crew will bring you the action live on NWHL.zone, but there is nothing like being there and seeing the action live. Be sure to check out the new video board and join us as we take Strides Against Cancer. The puck drops at 1pm.