During the inaugural season of the Buffalo Beauts, one of the most unique aspects of the club has consisted of its Canadian content. Featuring more Canadian-born players than any other team in the NWHL, several of them were privileged to be part of a historic moment in league history, and a special chapter in the growing legacy of women’s sports in Buffalo.
With Beauts captain Emily Pfalzer serving as one of the All-Star captains (the other was Boston Pride forward Hilary Knight), Skeats was reunited with her as members of Team Pfalzer’s roster. The other Beauts that skated with Team Pfalzer included Game MVP Kelley Steadman, Meghan Duggan, Megan Bozek and Hayley Williams.
Raised in Whitby, Ontario, east of Toronto, Skeats (along with Williams) was one of four players named to the All-Star Game through an online vote. Gaining 4.726 votes, Skeats earned the fourth highest number of votes. Beauts teammate Williams logged 6.384 votes, as both were assigned to Team Pfalzer.
The Beauts proud Canadian content also featured the likes of Shelby Bram, who hails from Ste. Anne, Manitoba, who would skate for Team Knight. Blueliner Tatiana Rafter (also from Manitoba) served as the Master of Ceremonies for the All-Star Skills Competition. Adding to such jubilation was the fact that the event was hosted on home ice at Buffalo’s Harbor Center.
“I think it made it that much more special, we could meet more of our fans from Buffalo and build more of a relationship with them.”
For Bram and Skeats, the chance to be part of the inaugural All-Star Game was an extension of their proud accomplishments with the Beauts. In addition, they were joined by fellow Canadians Kaleigh Fratkin and Jaimie Leonoff, both from the Connecticut Whale. Bram would join Fratkin and Leonoff with Team Knight, leaving Skeats as the lone Canadian for Team Pfalzer.
Both taking place on home ice, Bram would become the first Canadian in club history to register a point, logging an assist. Skeats would add her own chapter to the growing Canadian contribution in Beauts (and NWHL) history. On November 15, 2015, Devon Skeats became the first Canadian to score a goal for the Beauts. Ironically, the goal was scored against a fellow Canadian, as Connecticut Whale backstop Jaimie Leonoff allowed said goal.
At the All-Star Game, Skeats would score another historic goal on home ice. In a 9-1 final for Team Pfalzer (four points were awarded for sweeping the All-Star Skills), as she became the first Canadian to log an All-Star Game goal in the history of the NWHL. As a side note, Williams, who was also voted in, would score for Team Pfalzer.
“It was a pretty awesome experience, scoring was just the icing on the cake. The chemistry I had with my linemates made it that much more fun putting the puck in the net.”
Her brush with history involved another proud Canadian connection. Of all the players in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, Skeats was the only one who had played at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. Having spent five seasons with the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, she would win three OUA league championships and log an assist on her senior night. Subsequently, Skeats’ goal also makes her the first CIS alum to score in the event.
While Skeats’ performance, along with the contributions of Bram, Fraktin, Leonoff and Rafter made the hockey fans north of the border proud to be Canadian, they were all equally proud of the chance to participate in a memorable fan experience. In addition to a postgame autograph session, there was also a memorable Saturday morning event titled “Skate with the Stars.” With a number of young players from the Buffalo area gracing the ice, it was a chance for players like Skeats to continue their growing legacy as role models, providing inspiration and encouragement for the next generation of All-Stars.
“I will remember most is the players and fans that I got the privilege of meeting. The skate with the stars played a big role in being able to interact with the fans as well as after the game autograph session.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook