Beauts win, make history in Buffalo Believes Classic
In one of the most anticipated games of the season, Buffalo did not disappoint the Beauts faithful who showed up for the second Buffalo Believes Classic at Riverworks on Monday afternoon.
Wearing some incredible new Beauts-blue jerseys and skating in the team’s second outdoor game in franchise history, Buffalo shut out Toronto for the first time this season in a 3-0 win. The 36-save shutout was also Carly Jackson’s first shutout win in her PHF career, and the first time that the Beauts have bested the Six since their inaugural season in 2021. Tera Hofmann made 18 saves in the loss for Toronto.
“Without her, the the score would have been different. Towards the end, I couldn't even watch, I put my head down,” Claudia Kepler said on Jackson’s play. “I’m so proud of (Jackson) because that's what we needed - an all-around team win. (She) played absolutely out of (her) mind today.”
The first period was scoreless after both team’s penalty kills stood tall. The Beauts sent Allison Attea to the box for body-checking 12 minutes into the game, and shortly after that penalty expired the Beauts and Six took coincidental minors for four-on-four hockey. Both Jackson and Toronto’s Tera Hofman made some strong stops early, Hofmann turning aside eight shots and Jackson stopping ten in the opening frame.
It didn’t take Buffalo long to get on the scoreboard in the second period. Just over a minute into the second, Attea chipped the puck out into the neutral zone with Cassidy Vinkle in hot pursuit. Vinkle scooped up the puck and sent a picture-perfect pass to Kepler, who sent a laser past Hofmann to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
The Beauts had a couple of chances to build on their 1-0 lead with two power play opportunities. Maegan Beres and Lindsay Eastwood both sat for Toronto in the first ten minutes of the second, but the Six penalty kill and Hofmann were both up to the task. The energy from the crowd and playing outside may have contributed to the Beauts strong play in addition to their team buying into the game plan.
“I felt it a lot of a second period, probably because I was in the end where the fans are over the top of the net…there was a scrum in front of the net, and I just heard - you could just feel the energy in the building. It just invigorated our team,” Jackson said. “We had penalties but we killed them off, and everybody was so into it. It was really fun.”
That energy carried over into the third period, despite Toronto throwing everything they could at the Beauts. The Six outshot Buffalo 14-5 in the final frame, but Jackson stood tall in net and the Beauts defense supported their netminder as best as they could. Dominique Kremer got the team’s first empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining in the game, and Autumn MacDougall got a second insurance empty-netter with 10 seconds remaining to secure the win.
“It's been really, really fun finally getting these wins and sticking to the plan,” Jackson said. “Honestly, not much has changed in terms of our process and the way we come to work, but everybody's bought in and I think that's the real difference maker.”
After taking down the number-1 team in the league, the Beauts will look to carry that momentum into their next series against the Boston Pride. The puck will drop on their first game on Saturday, February 25 at 7 p.m. ET and again the following day at 1 p.m. ET.