Buffalo’s 1st-Rounder Alongside Beauts in Plymouth

Maybe while they are competing in Plymouth together, Buffalo Beauts defenders Emily Pfalzer and Megan Bozek can do a little courting, a little schmoozing even, of the team’s 2016 1st-round draft choice. It is helpful that Pfalzer is Buffalo’s team captain and Bozek is arguably the Beauts’ most vital cog on defense.

It helps too that all three ladies comprise the United States women’s national team’s defense corps, so they will obviously be seeing each other quite often. And last but not least, the Buffalo Beauts are the reigning Isobel Cup champions and are a lucrative decision for any prospect looking to play some elite-level hockey. It is my hope that all of those components will be enticing for USA defender Lee Stecklein to decide that Buffalo is the right destination for her.

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It seems strange using the word “prospect” to describe Lee Stecklein. After all, this young lady is playing in her fourth Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan; helping to take home the gold medal in 2013, 2015, and 2016, and hopefully this year as well. Stecklein is also an Olympic silver medalist from the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia.

Beauts First Pick in 2016 NWHL Draft

The Buffalo Beauts made Stecklein their first selection, the second pick overall, in the 2016 NWHL draft. The draft is not truly binding and relies more on whether NWHL teams are able to sign the players they have selected rather than the player opting for other possibilities such as playing in the CWHL or overseas. That being said, the aforementioned enticing factors could sway Stecklein’s decision as to whether she joins Buffalo.

At 6-feet tall and 170-pounds, Lee Stecklein’s size is most noteworthy in addition to the fact that she is also a very able-bodied puck carrier. Competing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, her collegiate career saw her tally 20 goals and 73 assists for 93 points in 157 games. Perhaps more importantly, Stecklein helped the Golden Gophers capture the national championship for women’s college hockey in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Stecklein was the co-captain of both the 2015 and 2016 teams.

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Plymouth Championships Just Getting Started

USA defeated Canada in their first game of the IIHF Women’s Worlds by a score of 2-0. USA netminder Nicole Hensley faced all 18 shots while Canada’s Shannon Szabados was peppered with 30. The fact that Canada was kept to less than 20-shots for the game can be attributed to stalwart defensive play by blueliners like Stecklein, Bozek and Pfalzer. Bozek picked up an assist in the game on a beautiful feed to Brianna Decker, while Pfalzer had three shots of her own. Nice to see some Buffalo Beauts representing in the victory.

Stars are aligning for Stecklein to go to Buffalo. Timing is everything. Fresh off of the Isobel Cup championship and now working as a unit in Plymouth, one would think that talk between the three defenders could lead to positive discussions about the city of Buffalo and the Beauts’ organization.

Most Welcome In Buffalo

USA will face Russia Saturday afternoon on April 1st. For the Beauts’ faithful it will not only be an opportunity to cheer on Pfalzer and Bozek, but it will be a chance to pay close attention to Stecklein with visions of next season in mind. Take in what Stecklein has to offer and begin to envision her being added into the Beauts backend fold for the 2017-18 season. Pfalzer, Bozek, Jacquie Greco, Paige Harrington, Sara Casorso,  Jordyn Burns, Kayla Parson, Lisa Chesson, should all of that Beauts defense corps return for next season with Stecklein added, it will be enough to make the other three NWHL teams turn green with envy.

With this tournament just heading into the second game for the USA, there is still a long way to go and plenty of opportunities to chat. Let’s hope that Bozek and Pfalzer gear at least some of the locker room chatter to how Buffalo lives up to its nickname as “the city of good neighbors.” For the city and the Beauts would be most welcoming of Stecklein and the caliber of hockey player that she is.