The Buffalo Beauts had already signed one member of the Slovakian Women’s National Team, and now they have added a second. Word was released on Aug. 19, 2019 that defender Lenka Čurmová had signed with the team. She joins her fellow countrywoman Iveta Klimášová, after both players had successful showings at the Beauts’ Free Agent Camp held on Jul. 28 and 29.
“Lenka’s passion for the game and her determination to make her mark in the NWHL is evident from the moment you meet her,” said Buffalo GM Mandy Cronin in the press release for the signing.
A highly talented defender with a lot of hockey maturity, she has played for Slovakia’s Women’s National Team since she was all of 15 years old. While the Beauts have already made some substantial signings along their blue line, Čurmová has the ability to assume the role of the number-1 defender for her hockey club. Only time will tell if that takes shape, but she is indeed capable.
Čurmová’s International Experience
Čurmová had a very busy 2013. She would play for her country in three different International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments – the 2013 U18 Women’s Division I qualification tournament, the U18 Division I World Championship itself, and the Women’s Division I-A World Championship. Čurmová would turn 16 years old while with the National Team in Stavanger, Norway for the Divison I-A Worlds.
At the U18 level, Čurmová has been brilliant. She competed at three different U18 Division I-B World Championships. Čurmová served as an alternate captain in 2014, and then team captain in 2015 for her final U18 tournament. At that same 2015 championship, she earned Best Defender honors after scoring a goal and five assists in five games. That led all defenders in assists and points, while Čurmová helped Slovakia take home the bronze medal.
Her role with the Slovakian Women’s National Team has been focused more towards her stay-at-home game. Čurmová has competed at five different Women’s World Championships and one Olympic qualifier. In her 25 World Championship games, Čurmová has just a goal and an assist. Regardless of her numbers, she helped Slovakia take the gold medal at 2015’s Division I-B Women’s Worlds, and then went on to captain the team 2018.
“Lenka’s experience on the international stage,” said Beauts head coach Peter Perram, “as well as her skill, power and speed, make her a great addition to the Beauts.”
Visibly Strong and Defensively Sound
Much like her teammate Klimášová, Čurmová has really good size and build for a women’s hockey defender. She stands 5-foot-8 and weighs near the 170-pound mark. Čurmová does not hesitate to use her size to her advantage, and can be quite physical. During the 2017-18 season with her Slovakian club team SKP Bratislava, she compiled 54 penalty minutes in only 13 games.
Speaking further to her experience back in her homeland, Čurmová has played for SKP Bratislava in the Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL) – a league consisting of numerous women’s teams from primarily Central and Eastern European countries. There in SKP Bratislava’s EWHL play, she Klimášová and Beauts goaltender Mariah Fujimagari all played together.
Čurmová also played seven seasons for ZHK Sarisanka Presov in Slovakia’s premier women’s league, beginning when she was only 13 years old. She scored five goals and 28 assists for 33 points in 77 games during those seven campaigns.
It might be thought that Beauts head coach Pete Perram will pair Čurmová and Klimášová together on the back end, but do not expect it. Klimášová, although listed as a defender, has recently played more at the forward position than on defense. Perram might then stick either Meg Delay or Marie-Jo Pelletier alongside Čurmová in order to form his top defense pairing.
The nice thing for Perram is that he can go ahead and move Klimášová up front to be a bigger body around the net (she stands 5-foot-8 and is over 200 pounds), and still be able to rotate Čurmová, Delay and Pelletier as his top D. While the Beauts certainly need to add more defenders to their roster, those three should still be the team’s best options to log the most minutes.
“It is a dream come true for me to sign my first pro contract with the Buffalo Beauts and become a part of the NWHL,” said Čurmová. “I’m thankful for the opportunity and excited to work with my amazing teammates, Mandy Cronin and Pete Perram. Go Beauts!”
As of Aug. 19, here is how the Beauts’ roster currently looks:
Goaltender: Mariah Fujimagari, Kelsey Neumann.
Defender: Meg Delay, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Iveta Klimášová, Lenka Čurmová.
Forward: Corinne Buie, Brooke Stacey, Kim Brown, Becki Bowering, Cassidy MacPherson, Emma Ruggiero, Ashley Birdsall (forward-defender).
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.