It was another golden performance for Team USA as they defeated Canada twice in the Women’s World Championships to secure the first seed in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The team was unstoppable, allowing only two goals in five games, and scoring nearly at will throughout the positioning round and the semi-finals.
Three Buffalo Beauts competed in the tournament, which was held in the British Columbian city of Kamloops. Megan Bozek, Meghan Duggan, and Emily Pfalzer battled with the nation’s best players for their roster spots and joined Team USA for the border battle in Canada.
Beauts draft pick Emily Janiga had been selected to the National Team roster for the Four Nations Cup, played in November, but was not able to attend due to an injury. She wasn’t chosen to compete for the World Championship.
Of the three, it was Bozek whose name was heard most often. She came out firing her cannon of a shot from the first whistle, and the world took notice. Duggan was her usual dynamic mix of skill and physicality, and Pfalzer was a stalwart defenseman for the national team.
Bozek finished with four points (1G, 3A,) which was good enough for second among Team USA’s defensemen. The highlight of her tournament was a three point outing in the semi-finals against Russia on Apr. 3, in which Bozek scored her lone goal of the tournament and added two assists. Bozek also had an assist on the golden goal that won the championship for Team USA, when a redirect of her blast from the point was left lying on the ice for Alex Carpenter to bury.
Duggan was once again named Team USA’s captain for the Kamloops tournament. While she scored only one goal throughout the games, it was her discipline that was perhaps her most important feature for the team. Known for occasionally taking her physical game a little too far, Duggan finished the tournament with only one penalty, which was taken in the championship game.
Duggan was interviewed by USA Hockey in the second intermission of the preliminary game against Finland, after the team had come from behind to take a 2-1 lead. “We started off slow today – I don’t think that’s a secret – we just had to find our legs and get our rhythm a bit. We got that now.”
Though she did not score as prolifically as she had in the NWHL’s season, Beauts fans know that Duggan’s leadership isn’t always reflected on the scoreboard. Twice in the tournament, Team USA fell behind, only to come back and secure the victory, which is a testament to the leadership of this amazing team.
Pfalzer had a relatively quiet tournament. Though she didn’t register a point, she was an effective part of a defensive unit that finished the tournament with 11 consecutive periods of shutout hockey.
Prior to the semi-finals, Pfalzer was asked about the team’s success in the positioning round, and how they could carry that forward. “We’ve taken it one game at a time and tried to get better each game and put ourselves in the best position to win,” she told the Team USA reporters. “That’s what has led to our semi-finals matchup against Russia, and we’re going to do our best to win and get into the gold medal game.”
With another gold medal victory from three of the Beauts’ key players, the offseason is just starting to heat up.
The Connecticut Whale was the first team to re-sign a restricted free agent, and though Bozek, Duggan, and Pfalzer were likely focused on Women’s Worlds and not fielding contract calls, it won’t be long before they’re hearing from their new general manager, Ric Seiling.
In the meantime, congratulations to these amazing athletes and their world-class accomplishments. Victories such as this are a fantastic reminder of the unique opportunity NWHL cities have to experience the best hockey players in the world – not just annually, but weekly throughout the winter.