As the Isobel Cup Final approaches, the NWHL season is quickly coming to a close. With the regular season in the rearview mirror, the league takes the time to reflect on the season and present its awards for the players that stood out from their peers over the last six months.
The Buffalo Beauts will compete for the Cup for the third consecutive season – an honor held by no other team in the league. It’s no surprise, then that several Buffalo Beauts were nominated for awards, and that goaltender Amanda Leveille and forward Hayley Scamurra have taken home the hardware.
Competition for Goaltender of the Year was certainly tight. Riveters netminder Katie Fitzgerald held the top spot in goals against average and save percentage, tying Leveille for the league lead with 12 wins.
While Fitzgerald has been consistent all season, Leveille played more minutes and faced nearly 150 more shots on the year. Much of the damage to Leveille’s statistical performance was done in the first six games of the season. In the final 10, the second-year goalie out of the University of Minnesota has put on a veritable clinic.
The rough six game start to the year saw Leveille’s goals against average bubble to 4.00, but in the final 10 games, that dropped to an incredible 1.67. In that same stretch, her save percentage rose to .939.
It was her quick development and leadership ability that rightfully earned Leveille Goaltender of the Year.
The rookie of the year race was also a tight one, and it is perhaps bittersweet that linemates Hayley Scamurra and Maddie Elia would be so closely matched that either could have carried the title.
Though it is Scamurra who wins the award, there is a lot of be said about Elia’s rookie season. A point-per-game producer, 11 of Elia’s 14 points were primary points – that’s nearly 79 percent. Likewise, 11 of her points were at even strength; again 79 percent. These impressive numbers, combined with Elia’s physical dominance earned her the right to battle Scamurra for rookie of the year.
It was Scamurra that emerged with the crown, however, and the young power forward has certainly earned it. Nominated to take part in the series against Team USA and also an all-star representative for the Beauts, Scamurra has had a fantastic season. She spent the first two months of the year commuting from Northeastern University, where she was completing her degree. Once she was able to return to Buffalo full time, there was a clear change in Scamurra, who ended the season with 14 points.
The two freshman played most of their minutes with Kourtney Kunichika, who has a tendency to be a calming influence for such physical and gifted players as Elia and Scamurra. Their shifts were frequently the strongest for the Beauts, and there were often times where it seemed that Elia and Scamurra were in a constant one-up battle to see who could impress more with their hands, physicality, and pure sniping ability.
Congratulations go out to Leveille and Scamurra on their awards, and Elia on an incredible season that earned the nomination. 716 Sports Podcast wishes the Beauts the best of luck in the Isobel Cup.
Jacquie Greco received the NWHL Foundation award for her tireless work in the community. Greco has worked as a coach with the Buffalo Sabres Learn to Play program, teaching the game to hockey’s youngest fans. As a coach and an ambassador, Greco is invaluable to the community and to the team.