BUFFALO, N.Y. — The NWHL free agent camp held in Buffalo from June 24-26 was a an eye-opening experience for Beauts General Manager Ric Seiling. Straight out of camp, he signed University of British Colombia graduate Sarah Casorso for the 2016-17 season.
In camp, Casorso demonstrated superior puck handling skills and a deadly shot throughout the three sessions, and including the two scrimmages. Though the competition she faced was not as high as it will be in league play, Casorso was a standout from the start.
At UBC, the 5’7” defenseman was an important part of the Thunderbirds offensive attack and even led Canada West in points in her junior season, earning a First Team CIS All-Star nod. In her senior year, Casorso netted eight goals and 13 assists in 23 games. Four of her eight goals came on the power play.
In 2015, Casorso represented Team Canada in the Universaide games, held in Spain. The Canadian team finished with the silver medal.
Casorso was clearly a player that Buffalo was targeting going into the camp. Seiling addressed process he used to identify her as a player he desired, and why he pursued her so aggressively.
“I contacted her coach before she came to camp. I asked the ins-and-outs of her game styles and she is exactly what we’re looking for on this team,” he explained. “I think the biggest part is her character – the type of person she is. I think she’s going to be a great fit in the dressing room and a great leader on the ice.”
Casorso joins a specialized group of Beats defenders. With the anticipated signing of National Team members Emily Pfalzer and Megan Bozek, Casorso’s puck-moving ability combined with a hard and accurate shot make add to the already high-caliber defensive core. Her power play prowess is also something the Beauts will be looking for, as Buffalo’s special teams suffered throughout their inaugural season.
While speaking to the press following the signing, Seiling acknowledged that Buffalo’s special teams were ineffective, and that Casorso will help to solve that issue.
“Last year, we had four right-shots and one left-shot, so the one-timer could only come from one side. That limited us as to what we could do. Sarah is a left-handed shot, so she can fit in there. Lisa Chesson is a left-shot, so she can fit in there as well. We’ve taken the approach that we needed to fill that void, and we need to come with more than one version of our power play attack.”
Casorso herself is elated to be playing with Buffalo.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said, beaming. “I came in not really knowing what to expect…I’m really excited to be a part of this organization.”
The young defender was quick to mention her roots, and her mission beyond playing professional hockey.
“I come from a bit of a smaller hockey community, so I’m hoping to bring a bit of exposure from BC over here,” Casorso said. “Tons of great talent comes from there. Just [want to show] that we can compete with the rest of North America.”
After playing a season in Europe, Casorso is most looking forward to facing her toughest competition yet.
“This will be the best hockey I’ve ever played, and I’m really excited to play with some of the best players in the world – that’s really the most exciting thing, I think.”
In speaking with the press, Seiling implied that the Beauts will once again sign Megan Bozek and Emily Pfalzer. If that is the case, Buffalo’s five defensemen are locked in, which is to say that Seiling will now turn his attention to signing the final few forwards to complete his team. Seiling and the Beauts have worked very hard to address the needs of the team and better their chances in the team’s second season.