With one preseason game down and another upcoming, the Buffalo Beauts gathered for practice at their home rink, the HarborCenter. A scheduling issue left the team with nearly two hours between off-ice workouts and their ice time, but it gave Today’s Slapshot an opportunity to catch up with Ric Seiling.
Seiling coached the Beauts in their inaugural season along with former US Olympian Shelley Looney. Looney left to pursue coaching with a local youth organization, and Seiling was promoted to general manager, on top of his coaching duties.
Seiling played a big part in putting the Beauts roster together for their first year and relied on that experience when he designed the 2016-17 iteration. “Last season was a big mystery. We didn’t know what to expect. Now we’ve had one year under our belt, and we’ve seen the level of play. We’re seeing young talent make an immediate impact – Amanda Leveille and Emily Janiga were two of our draft picks and we’re a better team with them here.
The NHL alumnus is happy with the roster he’s compiled. He says that there is already a chemistry developing, despite the limited time the team has been together.
“The girls are really coming together in the locker room – really gelling. There’s a great camaraderie going on amongst them, and we’re pleased with what we’re hearing coming out of the room, and the attitudes we’re seeing on the ice.”
How does that attitude translate to the ice? “The work ethic is there,” he explained. “Even though we were down [in the first preseason game] we never quit. We kept coming and coming. I think the loss was a good lesson; they learned what they’ll have to do to win.”
Seiling compared the team’s strategy to that of last year. “We’re always looking for improvement,” he said. “I thought we played the second period better than the first, and the third period better than the second. That’s the same theory that Shelley and I had last year – as long as we keep advancing, we’re going to be OK.”
The Beauts’ roster saw a high percentage of turnover; more than half of the team did not play in Buffalo last season. In just a few practices, the first year GM is starting to see his plan come together. Acquisitions Shiann Darkangelo and Corinne Buie have joined Janiga on the team’s first line, and it was Darkangelo who scored Buffalo’s lone goal in their matchup with the Junior Sabres. Sieling is pleased with the way the line is coming together.
“I like the line so far. Both Darkangelo and Buie have experience, and Janiga is a rookie, but she’s very calm in her approach to the game. I think that she’ll help both of them throughout the season,” he added.
Buffalo, Connecticut, and New York all saw sweeping changes in their lineups, while Boston remained largely the same. Seiling acknowledged the challenge that lies ahead. “New York and Connecticut are going to be much better teams than they were last year. Boston has 12 players from the US National Team, and they picked up [Meghan] Duggan; in order to compete, we’ve got to get our game plan in place.” He spoke of the importance of bringing in an experienced player and coach to work with the team. “Coach [Craig] Muni is bringing a lot of different things to the table. He’s a great asset to our team this year. He and I are confident we’ll have the right gameplan, so we’ll just have to execute it with the right effort.”
The Beauts’ first season was marred by an inconsistent roster and relied heavily on their practice players. Already, the squad is going to be tapped for action. Kelley Steadman, who led the team in goals and points, will not be at the season opener. Ric understands how important these practice players are, and was very particular with the players he’s chosen.
“These are good hockey players. We saw how well the fit the other night. We were pleased with their performance,” Seiling said and discussed some of the highlights. “Morgan Beikrich saw the ice for the first time with the team because we had an issue scheduling her physical. I was impressed with her. Jaqcuie Greco made some great moves for us as well.”
“Kayla Parsons was good out there in her first game action,” he added; “She moved to Buffalo [from Alaska] to be a practice player, so that shows their level of commitment.”
As the team began to gather to take the ice, Sieling had one more thing to say. When asked what the team’s goals were for the season, aside from a championship, he uttered what has stood out as the Beauts’ motto for season two. “We have unfinished business. It’s as simple as that. Our only goal is to finish what we started.”
Buffalo will travel to St. Catherines, Ontario to face the Brock University Women’s Hockey team on October 2. It will be their final tune-up before the season opener against the Boston Pride on October 7. Buffalo is the only team that didn’t face Team Russia in their preseason, so it is difficult to gauge how the team compares to the rest of the league, since the Beauts have had a variable experience. Despite his bias, Seiling is a professional, and an analyst by trade. His confidence in his team may not be objective, but it certainly permeates through the players. There is an air of excitement surrounding the team. The Buffalo Beauts are prepared to handle their unfinished business.