New-look Beauts ready to turn heads in 2021-22 season
The Buffalo Beauts want to let everyone know going into this season that they aren’t the same old Beauts you’ve seen before.
Sure, there are quite a few returners that fans will be happy to see back, like co-captains Taylor Accursi and Marie-Jo Pelletier, along with Lake Placid standouts Autumn MacDougall and Carly Jackson (who’s styling a fresh new ‘magical mullet’ these days).
But the majority of the team is new, and for the Beauts, that’s something they think will be a huge positive for the team heading into their seventh season.
“We had a solid core last year, but we didn't really have much time to spend together, especially with the season being so short,” said Jackson. “But I really feel like we took the positives from last year and just carried it in this year and adding in some of those key pieces that just have elevated us to a new level. Our practices are just absolutely electric.”
“It’s weird to think that the season technically hasn’t started yet. It feels like we’re in midseason form,” added Jackson.
Among the newcomers to the Beauts are 2021 draft picks Emilie Harley and Anjelica Diffendal, Finnish sensation Jenna Suokko, PHF veterans like Elena Orlando and Grace Kleinbach, and netminder Lovissa Berndtsson from the SDHL and Sweden’s national team. Not a bad offseason of signings for Beauts general manager Nate Oliver and head coach Rhea Coad.
“I think this year…we agreed that we never want to use the word underdog. I think Buffalo has been deemed the underdog since forever, not just our team but I think the Bills and the Sabres and every possible team in Buffalo,” said Coad. “We all bought into that we don't want to be the underdog anymore. We're not the underdog because, this year, we really plan on turning heads and I think it just comes with what our identity is, which is (that) we're a fast and relentless team.”
Not only have the team’s skills improved during the offseason, but their chemistry is also something that Kleinbach and Jackson have noticed early on. Oliver and Coad made it a priority to make sure that both the new and returning Beauts’ players feel welcomed into the Buffalo family, and that’s translated into the team gelling quickly on the ice.
“What I love about the Beauts was - the staff, you can just tell that they care about every single one of their players…I don't think I've ever been accepted into a team so fast. I's just awesome to see the respect of your fellow teammates and the staff, and everyone's there to help you become a better person and a better hockey player,” said Kleinbach. “So it's so exciting to be a part of such an organization that cares so much about us, and like Rhea and Carly said, we come to the rink and we're a family…it's nice to be a part of such a special team.”
The Beauts first test will be against a formidable Toronto Six team, and it’s a border battle that the team is excited to kick off the season with.
“I think it's gonna be electric. We had one game against them last year and it was it was a tight race and Toronto was strong or fast, powerful team,” said Jackson. “But you know that rivalry is so fun, and it just brings so much energy within our team. So it's going to be that much more exciting when we have fans in the stands and especially (with it) being our first home game.”