On July 6 Isobel Cup champion Kelley Steadman retired from the NWHL to return to her alma mater Mercyhurst as an assistant coach. Steadman, who just turned 27-years-old on July 17, is a two-time gold medalist with USA Hockey (2011, 2013) and was an All-Star in each of her two seasons with the Buffalo Beauts.
“As much as I love playing the game, I am so excited to further my coaching career in taking the assistant coaching position at Mercyhurst. I loved my four years of playing at Mercyhurst and I know that this is the right step for me,” she said in a statement released through the NWHL.
“At 27, I don’t feel my body slowing down and I don’t feel as though I can’t play anymore. I simply have another part of hockey that I am super-passionate about. I love growing the game and making an impact on the lives of girls and young women and Mercyhurst is the perfect place for me to step in and make a difference.”
Steady was Always Ready
Steadman certainly made a difference in the NWHL as she registered an astounding 30 points (18g-12) in only eighteen regular season games. That point total ranks her seventh all-time in league scoring and she has played in far fewer games than any of the other six players ahead of her. During season one she scored a goal in nine out of the ten regular season games she played in and she was only held pointless in five games during her NWHL career. ‘Steady’ was a primetime player for Buffalo, and when it mattered most she led by example, even if it didn’t show up on the scoresheet.
In the Beauts championship game win over the defending champion Boston Pride, which was a rematch of the inaugural Isobel Cup Final, Steadman was pointless and only registered one shot on goal, but it seemed every single time she had the puck that game she made the right play, whether it was passing to an open teammate or deflecting an attempted pass, or getting the puck deep in the attacking zone so her linemates could get off the ice in favor of fresh legs.
“The Beauts will miss her as a teammate, the fans will miss her rushes and goals, and I will miss her ever-confident smile and ‘We got this, Coach,’” said Buffalo GM and co-coach Ric Seiling of Steadman. “In the Cup Final, we saw her style of playing change to what championships are made of: shot-blocking, grit and composure, as well as talking on the bench, giving direction to her teammates.”
Forever a Champion
Every athlete dreams of walking away from the game as a champion, the storybook ending so-to-speak, and that’s exactly what Steadman was able to do after what must have been an incredibly satisfying year. She got to captain one of the two All-Star teams in her hometown of Pittsburgh with all of the league’s stars on display in front of a sellout crowd and six weeks later she was able to win the championship with two of her best friends — Brianne McLaughlin and Ashley Vesci — as well as her Buffalo teammates.
— Robert Morris University (@RMU) July 7, 2017
“These last two years playing with the Beauts have arguably been the most enjoyable of my hockey career. The group in the locker room both seasons were just amazing people, with great work ethic, that didn’t let what anyone thought bother them,” Steadman said. “It’s no secret that the Beauts have been the underdog in just about every game that we played in, and I think to go out on top, as an Isobel Cup champion, with the group of Beauts that we had last season, is the perfect way to end my hockey career.”
“I can’t say enough good things about my teammates and I’m so happy to go down in history with them. This league is composed of so many great people that simply love the game and want to help it grow, and I am forever thankful that I was able to meet them and work with them.”
Fans of women’s hockey and the NWHL are lucky to have witnessed the phenomenal play of Kelley Steadman over the first two years of the league and when history looks back at these moments in time it will be plastered with memories of Steady’s steady play. Best of luck in the next stage of your hockey life Steady, and thanks for all of the memories.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.