It would be impossible to miss all of the marquee names that the Buffalo Beauts have on their roster. Szabados. Hensley. Cameranesi. Scamurra. Babstock. Bolden. And so on and so forth. The signings came fast and furious throughout the summer of 2018, and there are indeed enough to make most women’s hockey teams green with envy.
While these particular names have indeed given Buffalo an armament that is dead set on winning the Isobel Cup, championships are not just won because of stars. Case in point, Beauts assistant coach Craig Muni – a stay-at-home, rugged defenseman during his playing career who won three Stanley Cups with the high-flying Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s. Some of his winning experiences in the midst of a star-studded roster have certainly permeated down through the Beauts he has helped coach for what will be a third season.
Yeah, we’re for real. You with us?
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) September 24, 2018
Star power is oftentimes necessary but there is a lot more to winning than just big names. We present to you three Beauts whom no one should overlook during the 2018-19 NWHL season. Should Buffalo in fact win a second Isobel Cup, rest assured that these three players will have been vital cogs for their team.
1. Jacquie Greco
Greco is a player who has gotten better each year that she has been in the league. We said it at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season: sometimes you wish that the NWHL had a Most Improved award because Greco would have already won it by now. Not that her game was ever lacking, but she has an uncanny ability each season to elevate her game to another level.
Greco is already starting to make her mark this season. Facing the Connecticut Whale in an exhibition game at Colgate University, she helped lead an offensive onslaught in a 7-2 victory by Buffalo. Greco scored the Beauts’ fifth goal of the game. Capable of playing either defense or forward, she reads plays well and knows when to jump into the rush. Look for Greco to be an offensive threat from Buffalo’s back end throughout the season. She has demonstrated a crafty ability to slip in from the blueline and act like a fourth forward.
During Greco’s rookie season of 2016-17 she helped Buffalo to their first Isobel Cup. Multiple players who have come through Buffalo in Greco’s three seasons with the team have complimented on how she instills a level of comfort and belonging among all of her teammates, particularly newer players. She has 29 NWHL regular season games to her credit, and was Buffalo’s recipient of the 2017-18 NWHL Foundation Award.
2. Juls Iafallo
Born Mar. 30, 1996, Iafallo is the youngest member of the Buffalo Beauts, and yet she is already exuding a noticeable level of comfort in her rookie season. A native of nearby Eden, New York, part of Iafallo’s quick maturation as a professional forward stems from a familiarity in playing for her hometown team. She is one of the handful of local homegrown Beauts like Greco, Scamurra, Emily Pfalzer, Emily Janiga, Maddie Elia, and Julia DiTondo. Whatever the case may be, Iafallo has fit in right from the get-go.
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) September 23, 2018
Though not typically the case for younger players, the Beauts coaching staff may show enough confidence in Iafallo to utilize her on specialty teams throughout the season. She scored a shorthanded goal against the Whale in the aforementioned exhibition game at Colgate, with Elia picking up the assist. The strides Iafallo has made so far could see her spend time on the top-two lines, particularly if she develops a chemistry with the established top-end players like Elia and Scamurra.
Iafallo played her NCAA college hockey at Ohio State University. She played in 146 games for the Buckeyes, and scored 22 goals and 42 assists. Iafallo’s finest season offensively was her recent senior year of 2017-18 when she set career highs in games played (39), goals (12) assists (15) and points (27).
3. Sarah Casorso
Casorso is already one of the Beauts best offensive-defenders, but there is definitely a sense that she will bring her game to another level this year. Enough so that she could vie for not only an All-Star nod but even consideration as the NWHL’s top defender. Casorso was also a member of the Beauts 2016-17 championship team, but it took until the opening round of the 2018 playoffs for her to score her first career goal – an exhilarating overtime winner that eliminated the Boston Pride. Now that the proverbial monkey is off of her back, the goals from the blue line should come with more regularity.
While she may not have scored a goal during the regular season, Casorso still showed to be Buffalo’s top scoring blueliner this past year. Her nine assists in 15 regular season games were the most helpers and points among Buffalo’s “D”. Those same nine assists tied her with Elia for second most on the team behind Kourtney Kunichika’s 10. Likewise, her 19 shots on goal were third highest for Buffalo defenders, just trailing Sarah Edney’s 29 and Lisa Chesson’s 21. Both Edney and Chesson are back in the fold too, but Casorso could really take the reigns this season as the team’s preeminent defender.
Casorso’s has played 31 career regular season games for the Beauts and has totaled 16 assists. In her four postseason appearances she has scored the lone goal. Now as a third-year Beaut and NWHLer she is one of the most established players on the team, who has still flown more under the radar in terms of her league-wide recognition. That will change in 2018-19.