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Beauts add scoring and physicality with Janiga

Buffalo Beauts helmets at NWHL Buffalo Beauts at Connecticut Whale. Dec. 6 2015. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

The Buffalo Beauts recently signed 2015 fourth-round draft pick Emily Janiga. Janiga is the ninth player and the second draft pick to agree to terms with the Beauts.

She just completed her senior season with Erie, Pennsylvania’s Mercyhurst Lakers, and was a featured forward on the team, helping the Lakers to reach the CHA tournament championship three times in four years, and winning it twice.

Though she was hampered with an injury in her senior season that also kept her from her duties with the US National Team at the Four Nations Cup, Janiga and the Lakers made it into the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament, where they were defeated by Wisconsin in the quarterfinal round. She finished her college career with 151 points (72 goals, 79 assists).

Her balanced play will be quite an asset for a Beauts team that struggled with scoring through their first season. The Beauts have re-signed sharpshooter Kelley Steadman and first-line center Shelby Bram, and Janiga could fit in easily beside them. Bram and Janiga are former Mercyhurst teammates, and that familiarity could also work in Buffalo’s favor.

With this line, defenses will struggle to decide whether to focus on Janiga, who is a skilled scorer in her own right, or to focus on Steadman, who would benefit from a playmaker like Janiga. The rookie is quick to downplay labels like ‘goal scorer’ and ‘playmaker,’ though.

“I wouldn’t label myself specifically as a goal scorer or a playmaker, but I work hard and do whatever I can to help my team be successful,” she said, and quickly passed credit on to her teammates. “I have been fortunate to have great linemates at Mercyhurst, who play an integral role in my success at the collegiate level.”

Aside from her talents with the puck, Janiga has worked to become a more complete and intelligent player. At 5’10”, she is a physical presence, and that characteristic is an important part of her game. In her senior season, Janiga cut her penalty minutes in half, and says the focus was on maintaining the physicality, but minimizing mistakes.

“I worked on stick control and playing smart, tough hockey,” she stated, and went on to describe her approach, “I made an effort to be more conscious of my body and my surroundings. I’m a physical player, so I didn’t want to lose that aspect of my game, but I did increase my awareness, which was effective in helping me stay out of the box.”

On a personal level, the circumstances could not be better for Emily. As a native of the Buffalo area, Janiga played her high school hockey not far from the Beauts’ home ice at HarborCener. She has a huge support system in Western New York, and she is ecstatic to be representing her home town as a professional hockey player.

With a nod to her past experience, she said, “I enjoyed my playing career at Mercyhurst, and I’m very thankful for the memories and friendships I made there. I’m also extremely excited for this new opportunity to be a part of the Buffalo Beauts team. I’m eager to meet my new teammates and transition to this level of competition.

“Having the opportunity to play in my hometown is a dream come true,” she added. “My family is excited to have me back in Buffalo, and I’m excited to have them in the stands at every home game! The support from my family, friends, old teammates and coaches is unbelievable, and I cannot wait for the season to start.”

In signing Janiga, the Beauts have obtained a unique combination of physical domination, scoring, and vision. As the roster begins to fill out, the team that Seiling has structured so far appears to address some of the weaknesses that Buffalo suffered from in their inaugural campaign.

His vision for success is taking shape, and players like Janiga certainly represent his desire to formulate a winning culture.

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