On April 28, the Buffalo Beauts became the first team in the NWHL to sign a player they’d drafted. Former Minnesota Golden Gophers goaltender Amanda Leveille was Buffalo’s third round pick in the league’s inaugural draft, and 12th overall.
Leveille is coming off of a fantastic senior season with the Gophers. She recorded a 1.29 goals against average and a .942 save percentage en route to the National Championship. Following the win in the championship game, Minnesota coach Brad Frost told the press, “Hopefully, people now will give Amanda Leveille the credit that she deserves because she’s a ridiculously talented and good goaltender. She’s been a part of three championships and one loss in the nationals. We’re proud that she chose to come to Minnesota and I know she’s grateful for that, too.”
Her illustrious college career is now behind her, and she’s already made history in Buffalo. That wasn’t part of the plan, Leveille said.
“I didn’t know I was going to be the first draft pick to sign with a team, but I am extremely honored and grateful to become a part of the Buffalo program and the NWHL.”
Buffalo is the perfect place for the goalie to land, and the response from fans has been overwhelming.
“Upon the press release, I was bombarded with texts, emails, and calls from former teammates, friends, family and Gopher fans congratulating me on becoming pro. I also received numerous tweets from Buffalo fans welcoming me to their team. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” explained Leveille.
The Queen City also has an additional perk for Leveille.
“The location of Buffalo was also ideal for me as it will allow my parents to be able to come and watch me play without difficulty for the first time in four years,” she said, obviously excited for her family to share the experience.
Amanda’s work with the Canadian national hockey program left her with a big decision when the time came to decide on which league to play in.
When asked about the options, Leveille said, “Being a Canadian, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play in the NWHL, with the CWHL being established, but I was so honored last year to be selected in the draft that I felt obligated to learn more about the program that used a draft pick on me. After speaking with Ric [Seiling, Beauts coach and general manager] on the phone – he opened my eyes to a variety of new opportunities that extended beyond just the ice surface in Buffalo. His experience of playing in the NHL is second to none among the NWHL coaches and I know he will help to elevate the game of all of his players, including myself.”
Along with the tutelage of Seiling, Levielle was also excited about some the players from Buffalo’s roster last year.
“I was delighted to see my former teammate Megan Bozek on the Buffalo Beauts have another terrific season. It was an honor to play with her on the Gophers and I am excited to have the opportunity to potentially play with her again.”
Leveille is anxious to take to the ice and show her new team what she’s got. “I have always been very competitive from a young age and strive to be the best I can be on and off the ice,” she said.
When Today’s Slapshot reached out to Seiling, he had nothing but praise for the new Beauts netminder.
“Amanda’s credentials are impeccable, coming off a national championship. Winning is contagious and we are excited and thrilled that she will be wearing the Beauts logo this season…we have unfinished business to complete from last season.”
Amanda shares Seiling’s vision for the future.
“The ultimate goal is to help the Buffalo Beauts to win the Isobel cup by fulfilling whatever role I am given to the best of my abilities,” she said.
The signing is a huge occasion for Buffalo, who has been all but silent in a tumultuous week for the league. Three trades and three player signings had occurred since Monday, as teams gear up for what is anticipated to be a whirlwind free agency period, set to begin on May 1.
Leveille joins defenseman Paige Harrington as Buffalo’s only signees of the restricted free agency period, with two days left for Seiling and the Beauts to secure key players before they have the ability to test the free market. With 15 roster spots remaining, Seiling has his work cut out for him. It is certainly some comfort to know that the team will have a national championship goaltender backstopping them as they approach their second season.