NEUMANN’S FORTITUDE LEADS TO VEDA PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
By Nathaniel A. Oliver
The Buffalo Beauts watched the film Miracle on the bus last weekend from Western New York to the New England area. One of the famous quotes uttered by Kurt Russell-as-Herb Brooks in the film is, “The name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back."
Few players embody that concept better than Beauts' goaltender Kelsey Neumann.
Neumann has been named the VEDA NWHL Player of the Week after her performance in net during Buffalo's 3-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday. She faced 42 shots during the game and stopped all but one.
"It means a lot to me to be named Player of the Week," said Neumann. "It has been a long road, and to have coaches who believe in me means more than I could ever explain."
A former recipient of the NWHL's Foundation Award for her commitment to the game and work in youth hockey programs, Neumann won the Isobel Cup in 2016-17 as Buffalo's third goalie behind stars Brianne McLaughlin and Amanda Leveille. She was also a Beauts backup in 2017-18, making her NWHL debut during the final 32 seconds of a game on March 10, 2018 against the Whale.
Now back with the Beauts in 2019-20, Neumann has received a chance to utilize her talents by GM Mandy Cronin and head coach Pete Perram. She has demonstrated admirable perseverance and fortitude.
"It's really special to me," Neumann said. "I told Mariah (Fujimagari) as we were walking back to the locker room after the win that I was trying to not be emotional because it's been three years in the making. I had great goalie partners in Bri and Lev, and they've always been supportive. Mariah stepped in and has been just as supportive as they have, so it's very special for me."
The 3-1 victory for Neumann was the first complete game of her NWHL career. Her other two appearances earlier this season were partial games – one against Boston on Oct. 13 when she came subbed for Fujimagari, and one she started against the Whale on Oct. 20 but left with an injury. For the season, Neumann has 2-0 record, 2.95 GAA and .923 save percentage.
Neumann and the Beauts host the Minnesota Whitecaps this Saturday and Sunday. Minnesota’s No. 1 netminder is Leveille, her longtime goalie partner and close friend.
"My goal this weekend is definitely to try and trip Lev during warmups," said Neumann. "But seriously, my goal is to do everything I can to help my team win – no matter if I'm in the net or not."
Photo Courtesy: Mike Hetzel