One of the earliest legacies of the Buffalo Beauts is its proud linkage with Canadian-born players. Boasting more Canadians than any other NWHL franchise, they are destined to capture the hearts and minds of Canadian hockey fans in nearby Southern Ontario.
Among the Canadians making an impression with the Beauts is forward Devon Skeats. Having played at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level with the famed Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, there is definitely a proud feeling of homegrown talent excelling in the first professional women’s hockey league in the United States.
One of the proudest moments in Skeats career took place during a November 15 match against the Connecticut Whale. In the third period, Skeats scored against goaltender Jaimie Leonoff, becoming the first Canadian to score a goal in Buffalo Beauts history. The feeling of history was accentuated by the presence of Shelby Bram, who along with Meghan Duggan earned one of the assists on Skeats’ goal. As a side note, both signed their contracts with the Beauts on the same day.
During the Beauts second contest, Bram became the first Canadian to earn a point with the Beauts, when she was credited with an assist on a goal scored by former collegiate teammate Kelley Steadman. For Skeats, the chance to have Bram assist on her historic goal only added to the sense of jubilation,
“It is always a great feeling to be able to contribute to your team, being the first Canadian and having a fellow Canadian, especially an incredible hockey player like Shelby Bram dish me the pass is pretty special.”
With such strong momentum, Skeats would continue to contribute to the Beauts offense. As the Beauts bounced back from a 5-1 deficit on November 22 against the first-place Connecticut Whale, the result was the first shootout in NWHL history. During the comeback, Skeats and Kelly Mcdonald earned an assist on a goal scored by Kourtney Kunichika.
As Skeats becomes more comfortable on NWHL ice, bringing an increasing confidence that has seen her playmaking abilities rise to the surface (she won a scoring title last season playing in Europe), it is contributing towards an added dimension to the Beauts offense. While she has acknowledged that it is a much different game compared to what she was accustomed to in CIS play, her willingness to learn and open mind make her a highly coachable player and a model teammate.
“The biggest change would definitely have to be the skill, speed and power every player brings to this league. Everyone is so talented and extremely smart. There is still so much more for me to learn.”
Competing in a city known for its strong devotion to its sports teams, it has only added to the excitement of Skeats participating in the NWHL’s inaugural season. Complemented by the team’s dedication to helping the less fortunate, from a fundraiser for breast cancer, military appreciation night and a food drive, it is an opportunity to reciprocate the dedication of a growing fan base.
Considering that the coaching staff is led by former Buffalo Sabres competitor Ric Seiling, who is very familiar with the city’s very loyal fan base, he is helping to instill such appreciation in a new generation of athletes. Led by encouraging women such as Skeats, helping to introducing professional female sports to the Queen City, the chance to don the Beauts jersey has proven to be a proud moment in her career.
“We have such a great team here in Buffalo. I love the girls. We have such great team cohesion. It is always a lot of fun and our coaches are so knowledgeable and such great teachers.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook