Beauts Shock the Rivs in NWHL SemiFinal

In a result not many saw coming the Buffalo Beauts upset the New York Riveters in one of the NWHL semifinals to advance to their second consecutive Isobel Cup Final. The Beauts finished the regular season in third place (6-10-1) but were 3-3-0 against the Rivs who finished in second (8-7-1).

Buffalo was outshot throughout the game (36-12) but it didn’t matter much as they got timely goals and stellar goaltending to knock out their opponents 4-2 at the Barnabas Health Hockey House in New Jersey. Netminder Amanda Leveille and her team now head to Lowell, Massachusetts in an attempt to dethrone the defending champions: the Boston Pride.

Headed to the ‘Ship

“I’m not sure how many shots we had, but all of our shots were obviously quality chances,” said Leveille of her teammates’ shooting prowess in the single elimination game. “I’m very proud of how our team played and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

The Beauts scored late in the first on a power play (Megan Bozek) and never looked back, giving Leveille all of the offense she would need on this night. “Just stop the next puck,” Leveille said of her mindset once they grabbed the lead in such a tense game. “As simple as that is, that’s my motto.”

Special teams were a huge part of this game as Buffalo’s PK was perfect in denying all seven of New York’s power play chances and they went 1-for-3 with the extra skater themselves.

“We came out, had a lot of energy, and played a full sixty minutes together as a team,” said Emily Janiga, who was the scoring star of the game for the Beauts with three points (2g-1a). The Buffalo-native scored the eventual game-winning goal with 2:08 left in the second period when she went bar down and ripped a shot that beat Riveters’ goalie Katie Fitzgerald.


“It was awesome,” Janiga said with a grin, unable to hide her excitement, “an incredible feeling but it was an awesome pass from our defense (Lisa Chesson); so I give credit to her for finding me in the seam.”

Buffalo’s motto all season has been: Chase the Crown, and now they are just sixty minutes away from avenging last season Isobel Cup loss to Boston. Leveille won three NCAA championships with the University of Minnesota, so big games obviously don’t faze the loosey-goosey, fun-loving goalie.

“Unbelievably,” she responded with an ear-to-ear grin when The Hockey Writers asked her how stoked she was to be playing for the NWHL championship. “This is so cool; I don’t really have the words to say about this. Being a professional athlete and being able to compete for the Isobel Cup – that is so cool.”

The Beauts will be heavy underdogs against a Pride team that buzzed through the regular season with a 16-1-0 record, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ve battled all season, sometimes with shorthanded lineups, but after winning two consecutive games for teh first time all season, they are perhaps playing their best at the perfect time.

Game Notes: Hayley Scamurra, who was signed on March 10 after her college career at Northeastern ended, also had three points (1g-2a). Janine Weber (goal) and Madison Packer (assist) of the Riveters led all players with six shots on goal apiece. Eight of the 22 players on the Beauts roster were a part of the Isobel Cup runner-up team last season. Following the game, Packer announced her retirement from the NWHL. The final game of the NWHL season will also be the final game in the careers of two Buffalo players: Harrison Browne and Brianne McLaughlin, who already announced they will not be back next season.