Beauts Ink Olympic Netminder

Silver medalist Brianne McLaughlin.  Photo from twitter.com

Silver medalist Brianne McLaughlin. Photo from twitter.com

The first day of free agency for the NHL has come and gone, and the Buffalo Sabres laid low, as expected. The needs that had to be addressed weren’t going to come from the handful of mediocre talent that was available as of July 1st, and so Tim Murray went to work signing Jack Eichel, guaranteeing he wouldn’t return to Boston University for the upcoming season.

Buffalo hockey as a whole, however, was not as dormant as local sports coverage would have you believe. A histroric signing took place as the Buffalo Beauts inked Team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. McLaughlin is the first player signed by the Beauts as they maneuver through the free agency period of the NWHL. Brianne is not new to being such an important part of hockey history as she played for Robert Morris University in the inaugural season of their women’s hockey team.

The NWHL Free Agency Frenzy has begun.  Photo from thephillysportscave.com

The NWHL Free Agency Frenzy has begun. Photo from thephillysportscave.com

Moves have been coming hot and heavy in the NWHL as Boston, New York, and Connecticut had already begun signing free agents to their rosters. This momentous move by Buffalo gives them a solid foundation to build on. Quoted on NWHL.co, Beauts GM said, “Buffalo has a tradition of strong goalies between the pipes. Hasek and Miller put the Sabres on the radar in the NHL, and now I think McLaughlin will continue such a tradition of great net-minders for the Beauts and the NWHL.” Following the NWHL draft, Mroz gave me a glimpse of the strategy the team used as they approached their selections. “The Beauts looked to take players who would not only be a great fit on the team, but be a great fit for the community, as well.” It appears that Mroz and company are taking the same approach with free agency as McLaughlin’s Pennsylvania goaltending school demonstrates her commitment to community and building the next generation of NWHLers.

McLaughlin brings a winning pedigree to the Beauts. As a member of the past two Olympic teams, McLaughlin’s two silver medals may shine brightest, but not to be overlooked are the two gold medals she received as a member of World Championship teams in 2011 and 2013 (with a silver medal finish in 2012). The Ohio native set an NCAA record with 3,809 career saves and recorded four 50-save games in her senior season at Robert Morris. While Buffalo is hoping that solid defense will lessen the pressure on the goaltender, it is comforting to know that our netminder can take a shelling and keep us in the game.

McLaughlin holds the NCAA career saves record.  Photo from cleveland.com

McLaughlin holds the NCAA career saves record. Photo from cleveland.com

The next couple of weeks should be pretty exciting for the Beauts and their fans. Each of the teams has held tryout camps, and July 6th-9th, the NWHL is reaching across the border and holding their Canadian Training Camp. The purpose of these camps is to showcase the skilled women, with GMs prepared to offer immediate contracts to players who stand out. Top talent will be in attendance, so there will be no shortage of movement as teams begin to assemble their 18-player rosters. Another camp is set for the end of July, with a larger focus on international players.

The benefit of limiting the inaugural season to four teams is simply concentration of talent. The entire league will be fewer than 100 players – the NWHL will be showcasing the best 100 women’s hockey players in the world. As both our NWHL team and NHL team begin to draw premiere talent, the city and its surrounding areas are about to be treated to some spectacular hockey. We are very lucky as a region to be able to grow with these teams and watch them flourish.

Let's fill these hallowed walls with the echoes of our voices!  Photo from canisius.edu

Let’s fill these hallowed walls with the echoes of our voices! Photo from canisius.edu

As we race into the heart of the offseason, stay tuned for updates on free-agent and draft signings alike. The NWHL’s free agency period ends on August 17th, so by then, we will have a clear picture of how our team will look when the puck drops. I hope you’ll all join me as we rock the Harbor Center with their first echoes of “LET’S GO BUFF-A-LO!” Welcome to Buffalo, Brianne!

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Free agent frenzy analysis; Nonis to Ducks; Visnovsky not done yet (Puck … | Hockey Insider | NHL News, Drafts, Picks, Schedules & NHL Betting Online - July 3, 2015

    […] • In non-Jack Eichel news: Silver medalist and Team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin signed to play for the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL. [What's Going On In Buffalo] […]

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