First, they celebrated last year's success. Then they got to the work of defending.
The Buffalo Beauts unfurled their Isobel Cup championship banner in a pregame ceremony, then held on to beat the Boston Pride, 5-3, in their home opener in HarborCenter Saturday night.
"I think being able to see all the returning players out there get their rings and the banner raising definitely gives a lot of the new players something to look forward to," said Buffalo rookie Taylor Accursi, who had two goals in the win and leads the National Women's Hockey League with five on the season. "If that doesn't give you something to look forward to this definitely isn't the spot for you. But everybody in the room definitely wants those rings."
The Beauts blew out the Pride through the first two periods, building a 4-0 lead with explosive offense and tenacity around the net. The Pride battled back in the third, cutting the lead to 5-3, but the Beauts held on to improve to 2-1-0 overall.
"We're still a team that's learning each other and trying to get the chemistry right," Beauts coach Ric Seiling said. "Every game's a learning experience. We came out with the win but what can we take away? You go into the third period up 4-0, you know you're going to get push back. The question is how are you going to handle it. We saw some tendencies as coaches we have to work on to help them be better."
On the board: The Beauts came out strong with a solid forecheck, cycling the puck, and taking advantage of turnovers and bad passes by the Pride. The work finally paid off with 9:10 left in the first period when Kayln Schroka crashed the net to get to a rebound from a shot by Kristin Lewicki. Schroka pushed the puck into the net for her first goal in the NWHL.
Crashing the net: The Beauts continued to come at the Pride, crashing the net for rebounds. On the power play in the second period, the Beauts took a 2-0 lead when Accursi skated through the slot and put in a rebound off a shot from Corinne Buie.
Growing the lead: Less than a minute later Maddie Elia directed a beautiful pass from Kourtney Kunichika past Boston goalie Brittany Ott for a 3-0 lead. It was the first pro goal for Elia, a native of Lewiston who played at Boston University.
Chasing the goalie: With 4:13 left in the second, the Beauts chased Boston starter Brittany Ott. The change came after Buie teed up a slap shot from the right faceoff circle to give Buffalo a 4-0 lead. Ott made 27 saves on 31 shots. She was replaced by Brianna Laing.
Third period: The Pride got on the board 3:17 into the third. With her second goal of the game, Acurrsi gave the Beauts back their four-goal lead. But Boston wasn't done, scoring two quick goals midway through the period to cut the lead to 5-3.
Suspensions: The Beauts were without forward Jess Jones and defender Sarah Casorso for Saturday's game. Both received a one-game suspension from the NHWL as additional discipline stemming from the Beauts 6-2 loss to the Riveters in Rochester on Nov. 4.
Jones was suspended for two separate actions in the third period -- slew-footing an opponent then grabbing the facemask and removing the helmet of an opponent. Casorso also was suspended for a pair of plays, a cross check in the third followed three minutes later by a fight.
Up next: The Beauts return to HarborCenter Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to host the Metropolitan Riveters. The Beauts then go on the road for their next two games, against Boston (Dec. 2) and the Riveters (Dec. 10), before returning to Buffalo to host Connecticut on Dec. 16 before the holiday break.