Although Meghan Duggan was signed by the Buffalo Beauts on September 26, making her the last player signed to an NWHL contract for the 2015-16 season, she is destined to be first in the hearts and minds of Buffalo sports fans. Among major sports markets in the United States, Buffalo is reputed for being some of the most loyal fans.
The addition of Duggan not only adds to this proud legacy, but it has set an exciting new precedent for female sports heroes in the Queen City. In the aftermath of the Beauts’ inaugural game, Duggan went to social media to show her gratitude to the enthusiastic legion of fans. "Buffalo. WOW. You guys were absolutely amazing. Looking forward to a great season with a great team, staff, and group of fans!"
One of the most accomplished players of her generation, Duggan has experienced three NCAA Frozen Four championships, a pair of Clarkson Cup titles and five gold medals from the IIHF Worlds, among other accomplishments. Of note, the former Patty Kazmaier Award winner also served as Team USA’s captain at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and in an emotional gold medal performance at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships.
Clearly, the world’s finest captain, she is ready to bring strong leadership to the Buffalo Beauts. Joining her in this exciting new chapter in her career are current teammates on the US national team, goaltender Brianne McLaughlin and blueliner Megan Bozek. Subsequently, they are all helping to instill confidence in young players by serving as positive role models.
Earning an assist on the first goal scored in Buffalo Beauts history, which was also scored during the NWHL’s Opening Day, the chance to make history was exemplified by a special connection. Of note, the goal was scored by Kelley Steadman, who won a Clarkson Cup with Duggan in 2013 (as members of the Boston Blades), and also captured an IIHF Women’s World Championship just a few weeks later.
Part of the jubilation of Opening Day was added by the fact that Manon Rheaume was involved with the opening faceoff at the Beauts’ game. Also having the chance to briefly chat with Rheaume, it was a chance for two hockey legends to cross paths in the midst of an iconic day for women’s hockey in the United States.
“I could not stop talking about how incredible opening day was to anyone that would listen. The crowd, the youth teams, the game, the support, the giant step forward in women’s hockey. If that day was any indication of how this league is going to operate, I am certainly impressed and excited. Post graduate players have been waiting for a day like that for years.
I had a chance to briefly chat with Manon Rheaume prior to the game and she was equally as excited for the puck drop as all of us were. It was an honor to shake her hand and talk with her a bit about how far the women’s game has come since she played. She is truly a trailblazer for our sport!"
Duggan has not only added a strong presence to women’s ice hockey in New York State as a player, she has also extended her remarkable career by sharing her remarkable knowledge of the game as a coach. Since autumn of 2014, Duggan has served on Matt Desrosier’s coaching staff with the Clarkson Golden Knights, based in Potsdam. During Duggan’s first season in Potsdam, the Golden Knights enjoyed a sterling 24-11-3 mark, sharing the ECAC regular season title. Helping to develop a new generation of stars, two Clarkson players (Erin Ambrose and Shannon MacAulay) were selected in the 2015 NWHL Draft.
While Duggan would have to wait until her second game in order to score her first goal as a member of the Beauts, it was one that shall certainly stand out in her distinguished career. On a day that saw the Beauts don black and pink hockey jerseys as part of a fundraising initiative for breast cancer, Duggan scored on Connecticut Whale goaltender Chelsea Laden, who was making her professional debut.
Coincidentally, it was Steadman that would earn the assist on Duggan’s landmark goal. The chance to play in such a meaningful game, resulting in one that gave back to the community, is already one of the highlights in Duggan’s inaugural season with the Beauts.
”It is always fun to play in every game, but yes that game was definitely a special one, as we all suited up head to toe in as much pink as we could! When you are doing anything to raise money for a cause as important as breast cancer, there is always an extra special fire in your heart. Our team certainly had that last weekend, playing in honor of all of those in our lives affected by such a horrible illness.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Meg Linehan
Image in pink ribbon jersey obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/BuffaloBeauts