From May 1-31, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and their draft picks during the restricted free agency period, and beginning on June 1 any unsigned players left will be free to sign with any team.
The third season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Buffalo Beauts defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with up to 12 players unable to participate in the league this season due to their selection for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic team, this will be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on New York and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston.
On the last day of July, it was announced that the Buffalo Beauts had re-signed Jacquie Greco. She becomes the tenth player to return to Buffalo from last season’s championship roster. Buffalo now has 20 of a possible 25 roster spots filled for the upcoming 2017-18 season. Here’s a closer look at Buffalo’s latest signing.
Greco Excited to Be Back
Greco played in 15 of Buffalo’s 17 regular season games last year. She notched one goal during that time. In fact, Greco was one of only three defenders for Buffalo to score a goal in 2016-17. The other two defenders were Megan Bozek and captain Emily Pfalzer, both of whom will be playing with the U.S. national team next season instead of Buffalo.
On returning to the Beauts, Greco shared the following via an NWHL press release:
“I couldn’t be happier to be back in Buffalo playing for my hometown team,” Greco said. “The support from our fans is unbelievable and I look forward to defending the Cup with a new set of players and my teammates from last year. I already felt the energy from the new players back at our camp in June and I can’t wait to get started with this group.”
Versatility Not Found Elsewhere
One of the most interesting aspects of Greco’s game is her ability to play either forward or defense. More often than not, she has been listed as a defender on the Beauts’ roster. The press release on her signing states that she is a defender-forward, the only player in the league to be listed in that category.
The ambiguity of Greco’s play can be traced to her high school years. Back in April, Greco explained to THW how her interchanging role as a defender-forward first came about.
“When kids are starting to play, I don’t think that anyone thinks specifically that they want to be defence or forward or goalie–it is kind of whatever you want,” Greco said in an exclusive THW interview. “But I was mostly a forward growing up in the mite level, then into peewee and even into high school.
Around my sophomore or junior year of high school, my club hockey coach… threw me onto defense because someone had gotten hurt and he needed a defender. I played defense for those few years after that, and I ended up getting recruited for college as a defender… In college, I played ‘D’ my first two years. During my junior year, I was moved back up to forward. Then senior year was actually a bit of both.”
The fact that Greco is capable of playing either position gives the Beauts an added ace in the hole, particularly if injuries deplete the front or the back end. In the year ahead, Greco could be shuffled around as needed.
Greco made her lone goal count last year. With just eight shots on net, her 12.5% shooting percentage was the best of the three Buffalo defenders to score. She also blocked eight shots last season and would block two more during the Isobel Cup playoffs.
Greco is a natural leader. In college at Syracuse University, she served as an assistant captain her junior year and was named the Orange’s captain in her senior season. She is considered one of the finest captains in their history.
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) July 31, 2017
“I still get text messages from people who are still there,” Greco had previously told THW about her captaincy at Syracuse. “They call me all the time and say that they miss me or they miss my leadership. I even had my former coaches at Syracuse say that there has still not been someone with my type of leadership since I left. That says a lot about the program, and how I took care of it and kind of made it my own.”
The 2017-18 edition of the Beauts will call upon her leadership capabilities once more. Her skill is an integral part of the recipe for the Beauts’ success.