Among one of the most popular players to have skated for the Buffalo Beauts, the retirement of Marie Jo Pelletier tugged at the heartstrings. Serving as team captain, bringing a joie de vivre that set a positive tone for teammates and fans alike, Pelletier definitely left a positive impression.
In 2020, Pelletier gained acclaim as one of the league’s Fans Three Stars of the Season. Recording 21 points, tying a franchise record for most points by a blueliner, Pelletier, a native of Dalhousie, New Brunswick, also set a league record with 12 points on the power play. Fittingly, she also recorded a point in her professional debut.
Skating for Team Dempsey at the 2020 All-Star Game, Pelletier was a finalist for the league’s Newcomer of the Year Award. Sharing the Three Stars honor with a pair of goaltenders, Brooke Wolejko of the Connecticut Whale, plus Minnesota Whitecaps All-Star Amanda Leveille, Pelletier’s profile rose tremendously.
“When I was voted one of the Fans Three Stars of the Season during my first year in the league, I was very honoured.
Part of the joy that comes from playing the game is making it exciting for the people watching. Knowing that this recognition came from the fans, and it was their appreciation of how I played was an incredible feeling.”
Just as relevant, Pelletier graciously gave back to the community. Earning praise as a hockey humanitarian, she uniquely employed her skills as a shot blocking specialist. Part of an admirable campaign, that began in her rookie season, raising funds for The Teachers Desk, a donation was made for every blocked shot.
Representing one of her proudest achievements as a professional, the campaign proved to be a perfect fit. Not only did Pelletier block over 200 shots over four seasons at the University of New Hampshire, where she was also captain, one of her goals upon arriving in Buffalo was getting involved with a non-profit organization that benefitted children,
“My first season, Nate Oliver, who has been our GM for the past two seasons, had partnered with me and he donated money for every blocked shot I had. The Teacher’s Desk is a non-profit organization that helps so many teachers and students in New York. They really make a difference, and I was very happy that I could help in a small way.”
Selected to participate in the 2022 PHF All-Star Game, but unable to play, it would have marked her second trip to the midseason classic. With the event relocated to Buffalo from Toronto over pandemic protocols, Pelletier’s absence was truly bittersweet for fans and fellow Beauts All-Stars alike.
Before the season expired, another unique privilege allowed Pelletier a special occasion to contribute towards Buffalo sports history. Certainly one of the most treasured facets of Pelletier’s brilliant run with the Beauts, the event became a seminal moment in franchise history.
Hosting an Outdoor Game for the second time, the 2022 edition of the “Buffalo Believes Classic” saw the Toronto Six provide the opposition. Contested at the popular RiverWorks facility on February 21, an exciting border battle demonstrated the positive impact of outdoor events for the league’s continued growth.
As a side note, Pelletier also participated in the first Classic. Held on December 28, 2019, sponsored by Labatt Brewery, the event, a 7-4 win for the Metropolitan Riveters, marked the first Outdoor Game in league history.
As the rival Six were perched first overall in the league standings, the Beauts, adorned in powder blue retro themed jerseys with white lettering, enjoyed the energy of the home ice advantage. Prevailing by a 3-0 tally, resulting in goaltender, and fan favorite, Carly Jackson enjoying her first career shutout, the victory, and overall experience, holds a cherished place for Pelletier,
“The Buffalo Believes Classic this year was definitely a highlight of our season. Coming out victorious on a gorgeous February afternoon against the number one team in the league was unreal.
We had beautiful retro jerseys for the event and it was an overall great team win. It will for sure be a game that I will always remember.”
Fittingly, Pelletier’s final point took place in her final regular season game. A March 20 affair on home ice resulted In a thrilling 3-2 overtime win, prevailing versus the eventual Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride. Pelletier and Dana Trivigno logged the assists on Taylor Wasylk’s third period goal.
Reflecting on the opportunity to play professionally, the most important aspect involved recognizing the Western New York fan base. Comprising one of the most energetic and loyal markets in professional sports, the connections between fan and team take on a highly emotional component, helping to shape local pride.
Known affectionately as “Mighty Mouse” with some of the Beauts younger fans, Pelletier possessed the heart of a giant. Always remaining humble, and highly respectful of the fans, her cherished time in Buffalo embodied the local benefit of the Beauts. From raising awareness of women’s sports, to providing female fans with role models, the Beauts place in Buffalo hockey lore was definitely made better by the efforts of Pelletier.
“What I most enjoyed about playing for the Beauts was playing in front of our fans.
We truly have the best fans in the league. They always show up, even when our record was not great, they always believed in us and cheered us on. The group of girls that we had this year was special. Despite the losses, I was able to enjoy the time I had on the ice and in the locker room.
Never would I have imagined that I would have been a captain at this level. It was an honour to have this role on the Beauts. Knowing that your teammates and your coaches respect you and want you as someone to look up to, to lead your team is pretty incredible.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”