Rising star shining bright in Buffalo

In a league full of stars, Buffalo Beauts forward Hayley Scamurra is a supernova. When Scamurra is on the ice, play seems to revolve around her. The puck gravitates toward her. While she and her linemates Maddie Elia and Kourtney Kunichika have been an unstoppable force in the league through the 2017-18 season, Scamurra has impressed in the NWHL, friendlies with the US Women’s National Team, and the NWHL All-Star Game.

“We consider Hayley to be a dominant power forward who can play all situations,” says head coach and general manager Ric Seiling. He made a surprise move to sign Scamurra for last season’s Isobel Cup run, catching the rising star as her collegiate career ended. “Last year...gave her the confidence that has helped her be a driving force on this team.”

Scamurra is certainly driving the offense of the Beauts. Tied at second in scoring with Elia, her 11 points are one shy of the team high of 12, held by Kunichika. Scamurra is one of the best possession players in women’s hockey, which is demonstrated by her 46 shots on goal this year, good enough for second in the league. She also carries a plus-3 rating through her 11 games, which is not surprising considering 64 percent of her points have come at even strength.

Scamurra is grateful that Seiling took a flyer on her last season. She says it definitely helped her transition to her rookie season. “I think playing last year made me feel more comfortable in the league. Even though this is my rookie year, I have felt pretty confident and comfortable,” Scamurra told 716 Sports Podcast.

This season hasn’t been without its obstacles, though. Scamurra had one final semester at Notheastern and the spent the first few months commuting from Boston to Buffalo. “The biggest challenge [this year] was living in Boston and having to practice by myself and then travel to games. I missed being with my team and bonding with them. But now I’m back in Buffalo for the long haul.”

The Western New York native is a warrior of the highest order. A natural scorer, Scamurra focuses on being a complete player. “My strengths are working hard in the corners and in tight spaces. I love battling for the puck.” She thinks this drive fits in well with the blue-collar mentality of the team. “Our teams strength is that we never give up. We are a hardworking team and we work well together.”

Scamurra credits her linemates for much of her success. “We have great chemistry. We all battle and we find each other - we’ve been lucky enough to put some in,” she told the press after the Beauts broke the Metropolitan Riveters’ win streak.

Seiling considers himself fortunate that this line has come together the way that it has. “We have had some ideas [in the preseason] and it really came down to Kourtney learning to play wing. She has done a great job adjusting to the new position and complimenting Hayley and Maddie.”

The line is firing on all cylinders. Of Scamurra’s 11 points, 9 are primary and 7 are even-strength primary points. Special teams is clearly key, but the even-strength contributions are certainly the catalyst for the Beauts’ 7-game winning streak. The last twelve months have been nearly flawless for the Beauts, and it would be difficult to overstate the importance of the team’s leading scorer in that time. Young, strong, fast, accurate, and responsible, Hayley Scamurra’s rising star is lighting the path for Buffalo’s success.

Erik Wollschlager