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Harrison Browne announces his retirement

Harrison Browne announces his retirement

Harrison Browne, who was an inaugural member of the Buffalo Beauts and a key component of the 2017 Isobel Cup champion team, has announced his retirement from professional hockey.

Harrison leaves as one of only two players to be listed twice on Isobel, having won the 2018 championship with the Metropolitan Riveters.

Harrison’s legacy as a champion pales in comparison to the indelible mark he’s left on the sports world as a whole due to his role as a distinguished figurehead in the LGBTQ community.

“Harrison is a champion for transgender rights and retires as an Isobel Cup champion hockey player,” NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan indicated in today’s press release.

“Thank you to all the fans out there who have shown me support. I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me and the LGBTQ community as a whole. You have shown anyone struggling to be themselves that they don’t have to be afraid…that there will always be people out there who will support you and love you no matter what. Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable in my own skin and cheering me on as Harrison,” Browne wrote in his letter to the fans.

Harrison ends his career with 27 points in 51 regular season games, and has the distinction of having missed no games in his three year career, playing in all 51 NWHL games scheduled during that time.

His physicality and tenacity were his calling card throughout his career. There is little question that he will be missed on the ice this season, as these characteristics gave him the innate ability to change the pace of a game. This was especially true of his time with the Buffalo Beauts, when he and frequent linemates Kourtney Kunichika and Devon Skeats wreaked havoc on opponents with a devastating forecheck that often resulted in turnovers, shots, and goals for the Beauts.

“Thank you to the Buffalo Beauts organization for giving me a chance to make my professional hockey dreams come true,” Browne stated. “I will always cherish my time in Buffalo and as a Beaut. To all my past teammates, coaches, staff and fans, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this Canadian feel at home across the pond.”

To read Harrison's entire statement, click here.

Beauts linemates join NWHL stars to face Team USA

Beauts linemates join NWHL stars to face Team USA

It’s been a very exciting end of the 2017 season for the Buffalo Beauts, and for a handful of players, the elation just keeps growing. Prior to the news that the Pegula family had purchased the Beauts, the league announced a set of exhibition games against Team USA as a final primer for Pyeongchang. Today, we learned that the Beauts will be heavily represented at the friendlies, with forwards Corinne Buie. Jess Jones, and Hayley Scamurra all getting the nod.

The roster was selected from the current active group of NWHL players by deputy commissioner Hayley Moore, with input from the league’s coaching staffs. “I got the call from Hayley [Moore] on the same day that the news broke about the new ownership, so it was a great set of Christmas presents,” Buie told 716 Sports Podcast on a phone interview.

Her linemate, Jess Jones, was equally excited to get the call. “It was awesome to be chosen. The game is going to be a lot of fun.”

Both Buie and Jones have faced many of the players on the national team throughout their collegiate and professional careers. Buie is eager for the challenge ahead. “I’ve played with a lot of the girls, and against them as well. Facing this national team is probably the highest level of hockey I’ve ever gotten to play.”

Jones echoed her linemates’ sentiments; “It is really cool to be facing these players at the top of their game. Everyone wants the opportunity to show their skills against the best of the best, and these games are our chance to do just that,” Jones said.

The pair have spent a lot of time together, playing on the Beauts’ top line this season. Buie says Jones is, “super-skilled, and a great teammate.” She pointed out that Jones is starting to get hot, so this is the perfect time for her to get the chance to show the world what she’s got.

Jones was equally complimentary. She described Buie, ‘my right wing’ as, “a big forward with lots of speed and a cannon of a shot.”

Buie is a four-year veteran, and is blown away by the evolution of women’s hockey in just that short time. “I got to come home and watch some high school hockey over the holidays,” she explained. “Everything is growing super fast. I was amazed at the skills these young girls are developing. Every year, when we get fresh players out of college, they are always a step above the last. It really is amazing.”

Jess Jones versus Metropolitan Riveters. Photo courtesy of Mike Murphy.

Jess Jones versus Metropolitan Riveters. Photo courtesy of Mike Murphy.

Jones has just surpassed the 100 game mark in her professional career, and marveled at the growth her sport has experienced in that time. “When I began, there was no all-star game [for our league.] Getting the chance to play at the ACC the following season was huge. The stage just keeps growing – from a men’s hockey arena, now to the international spotlight. It’s really exciting.”

“This is great exposure for the league,” Buie added. “It’s going to be fun for fans to watch, and I’m excited to help this league grow.”

The storylines that have developed over the last week are an incredible bookend to what was an already amazing 2017 for the Buffalo Beauts. After a Cinderalla run to the Isobel Cup, the players joined in solidarity with their Team USA colleagues against USA Hockey, forcing the organization to recognize the inequity in their treatment of the athletes. The team became the first privately owned club in North American women’s hockey, and now they will take the ice against the potential gold-medal winners in the 2018 Olympic Games.

Closing out the conversation, Buie was clearly awestruck by everything that’s taken place in the last 360 days. “I’m so excited to play against the Olympic team. This is a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

Pegula Sports and Entertainment acquires the Buffalo Beauts

Pegula Sports and Entertainment acquires the Buffalo Beauts

We want to contribute to the growth of women’s hockey. HarborCenter has allowed us to make a positive impact on the game at the amateur, high school and collegiate levels, and 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.” – Kim Pegula, Pegula Sports and Entertainment

As the 2017 NWHL season glides toward the halfway point, the league and Pegula Sports and Entertainment have announced a blockbuster deal that changes the game of women’s sports to the core. Terry and Kim Pegula have purchased the 2017 Isobel Cup Champion Buffalo Beauts. The NWHL franchise is now officially a PSE property, rounding out the One Buffalo trifecta.

Over the past two seasons, our readers have seen our pleas to the Pegula family regarding the Beauts. The news comes only a few months after the New Jersey Devils partnered with the Metropolitan Riveters to begin the 2017-18 season. The Riveters’ home opener was part one of a double header with the Devils, and was an incredibly successful endeavor. One can expect that similar events will take place between the Sabres and the Beauts, though nothing has been announced at this time.

The idea that a partnership might be forming was massaged last spring, when the Pegulas worked a promotions video with the team. Players were seen wearing One Buffalo gear in Beauts colors, causing some to speculate that this move was in the works. “We’ve been in communication with the Pegulas since our inaugural season,” NWHL commissioner Rylan stated in a phone interview. “Things have ramped up over the last five or six months.

The Beauts will have the backing of a local sports and media power house. Not only does this reflect financial stability for the team, but with the news that the Pegulas will take over all team operations, the Beauts will have access to superior marketing and experienced management. A million doors that were previously closed to the team have now been opened with one pen stroke.

Rylan is familiar with the strength of the One Buffalo brand that the Beauts are now a part of. “One of the biggest benefits is that the team will be plugged into the marketing machine that One Buffalo has become.

“It also allows aspiring hockey families to show all of their children that their dreams can become a reality,” Rylan continued. “Their sons and daughters will know that a professional career is equally available to them.”

Beauts defender and Buffalo native Jacquie Greco agrees. “Knowing that the Pegula family and the city of Buffalo believes in my team and the future of women’s hockey is an extraordinary feeling. I couldn’t be more happy to join the One Buffalo family and I look forward to the future and growth in my home city.

Only one coach in the league has been behind the bench since the league's inception, and this deal further expands Ric Seiling's relationship with Buffalo hockey. The former Buffalo Sabre told 716 Sports Podcast, "It’s a great thrill and we are so honored to be part of the Pegula sports and entertainment and the Sabres organization. We have always trusted that Buffalo was the place for Hockey and this is just another piece of proof." 

Though the players’ salaries will not change, the resources available to them will be equal to that of the Buffalo Sabres, Rylan says. “We expect that One Buffalo will provide the same marketing opportunities, and of course, access to shared resources will be key for the Beauts players.”

Gone are the days when players are forced to beg for new sticks as the season comes to a close. Proper training and the resources required to do so are now a given instead of a hope or a dream.

“I want to give a lot of credit to Kim Pegula,” Rylan said. “Her role in the world of women’s sports cannot be understated, and we look forward to having her as a mentor for the league.”

The Pegula family, and especially Kim Pegula, have been longtime supporters of women in sports, and this is certainly a strong statement to substantiate the claim. They are the first private owners of a North American women’s hockey franchise, which demonstrates the type of commitment and leadership that can be expected as the NWHL and the Beauts continue to develop. “The goal is to expand into one or two more markets,” Rylan stated.

It stands to reason, then, that a partnership similar to this would be sought in expansion. There is little question that private ownership would make expansion infinitely easier.

This is incredibly exciting news for women’s hockey as a whole. 2017 has been an incredible year for growth of the sport. It began with the battle for equality between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in advance of the World Championships, and has been bookended perfectly with the announcement of this deal.

More details regarding the deal will certainly emerge over the coming weeks, and we will work to bring you any news that comes. This is an incredible step toward equal footing in the Buffalo sports marketplace, and an unparalleled opportunity for women’s sports as a whole.

Action will resume on January 6 at HarborCenter, when the Buffalo Beauts will take the ice for the first time under ownership. 716 Sports Podcast will bring you all of the action live on NWHL.zone.