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Beauts make history with Harrison Browne, first openly transgender athlete on a pro sports team, as NWHL opens second season

The Buffalo Beauts will make history Friday night as Harrison Browne became the first openly transgender athlete to play a professional team sport in the United States.

The Beauts kick off the second National Women's Hockey League season at HarborCenter with a game against the Boston Pride, a rematch of the inaugural Isobel Cup Finals which the Pride won in two games.

Browne became the story at HarborCenter as the NWHL kicked off its opening weekend, making his announcement via several online articles including ones at ESPNW and VICE Sports.

"On the ice, when I put that equipment on, I'm a hockey player. I don't think about who I'm playing with, I don't think I'm playing with women. I don't think I'm in the wrong body," he said to ESPNW.

"Off the ice, I felt more comfortable having my friends call me what I wanted to be called, referring to me with the pronouns that I wanted. If anything, my product on the ice was let loose and I could be myself."

Browne, a native of Oakville, Ontario, played for the Beauts last year under the name Hailey Browne, scoring 12 points with five goals. Browne played three collegiate seasons at Maine and won silver with Team Canada in the 2011 IIHF World Women's Under-18 Championships.

A review of Year One: The Beauts opened their inaugural season on a five-game losing streak. They found their stride in January and finsiehd in third place in the four-team league with a 5-9 record plus four overtime losses. They defeated the Connecticut Whale in the semifinals to advance to the Isobel Cup finals losing in two games to Boston.

Scratches: Kelley Steadman was a scratch for the Beauts as she was coaching at Robert Morris while Hilary Knight was a scratch for Boston.

World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend: The opening weekend brings all four NWHL teams to Buffalo along with a 16-team youth hockey tournament for the NWHL Futures Tournament. The youth tournament begins Saturday morning and runs through Monday.

Up next: The Pride will face the New York Riverters at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in HarborCenter while the Beauts are back in action Sunday when they host the Connecticut Whale at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

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