The Buffalo Beauts have signed Kourtney Kunichika and Emily Janiga to one-year deals for the 2016-17 season, the team announced Monday.
Kunichika returns to the team after putting up 17 points (9-8-17) in 18 games for the Beauts last season, helping the team battle through a slow start and find their way to the Isobel Cup Final, where they lost in two to the Boston Pride. Kunichika had just a single assist through five postseason matches.
She’ll be playing on a deal that will pay $11,000 for the season. That represents a $1,000 increase for the forward.
“I feel blessed to be a part of the Buffalo Beauts organization again,” said Kunichika. “After last season, there’s no beating the fan base and support of Buffalo. I’m excited for another chance to compete for the Isobel Cup and play alongside great players and staff.”
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) May 16, 2016
Janiga, inked to a $12,000 deal, was drafted 16th overall in the 2015 NWHL draft. She was a senior with the Mercyhurst Lakers last season, scoring 11 goals and 24 points in 36 games as the team’s captain. She put up 72 goals and 79 assists over her 141-game collegiate career.
“Playing professionally in my home town was only a dream growing up, but now that has changed,” she said in the league release. “I can’t even explain in words how exciting it is to fulfill this dream. I am excited to be back in my home town to play the sport I love with the support of my family. I am completely honored and humbled by this opportunity!”
Janiga is the second draft pick the team has signed this offseason after inking Gopher goaltender Amanda Leveille to a contract. Of the nine players the team has signed, those two, along with Lisa Chesson, are the only three that weren’t on the team last year. Only the Pride have fewer new players on their team at this point.
NWHL free agency kicked off on May 1 and runs through July 31.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.