While they may have been the last NWHL team to start making signings for the upcoming 2019-20 season, the Buffalo Beauts are quickly making up for lost time. Word was released on the morning of Jun. 21 that Buffalo had added potent scorer Brooke Stacey to their roster. Hitting double digits in points for each of her four seasons with the Maine Black Bears, the soon-to-be 23-year-old will be an immediate threat to score in Buffalo.
“Brooke is a force to be reckoned with, and she has proven that playing at both the college and national levels,” said Beauts general manager Mandy Cronin in the press release for the signing. “Not only does she have a knack for finding the back of the net, but she is also a leader on and off the ice, which is incredibly important to the Buffalo Beauts organization. We are very excited to welcome Brooke to the NWHL.”
After graduating from Maine following the the 2017-18 season, Stacey had a brief stop in Sweden’s SDHL in 2018-19 for Linköping HC. She scored one goal in her two regular season games before playing in all 12 postseason games, as Linköping narrowly lost in the championship series to Luleå HF/MSSK.
Great Size, Soft Hands
Maybe the first thing that is noticeable about Stacey is her size. At 5-foot-10 and around the 150-pound mark, she has an ideal build typical of today’s power forward in women’s hockey. With smooth skating to boot, Stacey does very well at generating space to get open, and she uses the body to do so when need be.
However, possessing soft hands is what completes the package for this Kahnawake, Quebec native. Through her four seasons as a Black Bear, Stacey’s point totals rose every year, going from 11 to 18, followed by 28 and then 30 respectively. Her best season offensively was her junior campaign in 2016-17 when she set a career high of 15 goals in only 30 games.
At the close of her NCAA career, Stacey had scored 41 goals and 46 assists for 87 points in 134 games.
Though quite gifted when it comes to scoring, she has never shirked her defensive responsibilities either. Stacey blocks a lot of shots when she is out on the ice, something atypical for most offensive-forwards. In her four runs as a Black Bear, she never blocked less than 24 shots in a season. In fact, in the same season (2017-18) that she set her career high for points, she also achieved her highest mark for stopping rubber with 42 shots.
We cannot forget face-offs either. It is very likely that Beauts head coach Pete Perram will call upon Stacey to take draws quite often this season. She never took less than 528 face-offs in a season for Maine. Stacey took 2,575 draws in total during her collegiate career, and ended up winning just over 50% of them.
Stacey Is a Critical Signing for Buffalo
The other four NWHL teams have been adding firepower to their rosters since free agency began on May 15. The Riveters have Madison Packer back in the fold. Minnesota has Jonna Curtis and Nicole Schammel, while Kendra Broad is a new face for the Whale who may surprise more than a few. Perhaps most eye-popping are Boston’s signings of Jillian Dempsey and McKenna Brand in such short order.
But with the Stacey signing, the Beauts look like they are set to ramp themselves up in this NWHL arms race. They have already inked their enduring leader in Corinne Buie, who led Buffalo in scoring for 2016-17 – Buffalo’s Isobel Cup-winning season. Stacey is likely more of a natural scorer than Buie, but between the two, they are decisively as dangerous as any other pair of forwards who have been signed.
One must not overlook the Black Bears connection too. Cronin, of course, was a goaltender for Maine in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Buffalo’s second free agent signing, goaltender Mariah Fujimagari, is a Black Bears alum and a teammate of Stacey’s for three whole seasons.
Cronin is bringing a bit of Maine to Buffalo, and she is doing so with topnotch talent. Depending upon what other signings the Beauts make, it is conceivable – if not just plain likely – that Stacey plays on the top line for 2019-20.
“I wanted to join the NWHL and the Buffalo Beauts because of the great opportunity presented to me,” said Stacey. “I wanted to be part of a league that has played a vital role in advancing women’s hockey.”
As of Jun. 21, here is how the Beauts’ roster currently looks:
Goaltender: Mariah Fujimagari.
Forward: Corinne Buie, Brooke Stacey.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.