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Beauts earn first women’s hockey victory at home

The Buffalo Beauts finally have a home-ice advantage.

The Beauts earned their first win at the HarborCenter this season, defeating the New York Riveters, 4-2, Sunday afternoon. Buffalo had lost its first six home games.

As an bonus, the Beauts’ win moved them past the Riveters into third place in the four-team National Women’s Hockey League. Buffalo has 10 points while New York has 8.

The Beauts had to earn this one. They let a good-sized lead get away, and had to score a couple of goals in the third period to pull out the win. Buffalo is 4-8-0-2 in the season.

The Beauts still have some work to do to move up in the NWHL standings. It’s been a two-team race for much of the season. Connecticut has 22 points while Boston has 19.

Buffalo took charge from the start. Kelley Steadman scored two power-play goals in the first period to give the Beauts an early lead. Beth Hanrahan of New York got one of those goals back with the only score of the second period.

New York then tied the game in the third period with a goal by Bray Ketchum.

However, Buffalo regained its scoring touch in the final period. Shelby Bram tipped home a shot from Megan Bozek to give the Beauts a 3-2 lead. Zach wrapped up the win with an empty-net goal with 1:24 left to play.

Brianne Mclaughlin was sharp in Buffalo’s goal. She made 19 saves on 21 shots. Nana Fujimoto faced 44 shots for New York, and stopped 41 of them. The Beauts set the tone for the game with 18 shots to New York’s 6 in the first period. Buffalo held New York to only four shots in the third period.

Steadman leads the Beauts in goals with 11 and in points with 16 after her three-point game Sunday. The goal total leaves her tied for the league lead. Kourtney Kunichika is second on the team with eight goals and 15 points.

The Beauts hit the road for the next two weeks. They will play in Connecticut on Feb. 7, and then go to New York to play the Riveters on Feb. 14. Then they return home for two in a row.

New York will be in the HarborCenter on Feb. 21, followed by Boston on Feb. 28.