When she was playing for Team USA last year, Dani Cameranesi spent some time rooming with Emily Pfalzer, the Buffalo native who has become the face of women’s hockey in Western New York.
Hearing Pfalzer talk about Buffalo, Cameranesi was convinced this was the spot to pursue her professional hockey career.
"She's a big reason as to why I decided to sign with Buffalo just hearing the number of great things she has to say about the organization and the program," Cameranesi said.
And so Cameranesi, who was one of the leading scorers for Team USA in helping the Americans to gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, officially joined the Buffalo Beauts on Tuesday.
Could not be more excited to sign with such an amazing team and organization! Can’t wait to see what the great city of Buffalo has to offer (I hear they have some pretty amazing fans☺️). https://t.co/fXICVoDJ1d
— Dani Cameranesi (@DaniCam9) June 12, 2018
While Pfalzer talked up the town and the organization, Cameranesi also noticed the work of Terry and Kim Pegula. Pegula Sports and Entertainment bought the Beauts last season to become the first owners of a team in the National Women's Hockey League. (The other teams are owned by the league.)
"I think part of the reason I was attracted to the Buffalo Beauts was from the commitment of the Pegula sports organization," Cameranesi said Tuesday afternoon in a conference call. "They created such a great culture. They have great facilities to offer and pretty much everything they’ve done in the city is what drew me to them – especially their passion to grow the game of women’s hockey.”
Her game has helped grow women's hockey already. Cameranesi had five points (three goals, two assists) as the U.S. won its first Olympic gold medal since 1998.
She helped Minnesota to two NCAA National Championships in 2015 and 2016. Cameranesi played four seasons for the Golden Gophers and spent last season with the U.S. National Team.
Her strengths on the ice are speed and her shot, although there's been plenty of humorous banter with her brother Tony, a former standout at Minnesota-Duluth who has spent the last two seasons bouncing between the AHL and ECHL.
“I know my brother likes to make (fun) of me and say I’m a bit of a grinder,” Cameranesi said. “I have a high level of skill but I’m not afraid to get in the corner or battle in front of the net. My brother made fun of me the other day when I said my favorite part of hockey is backchecking. I guess he thought that was funny.”
The Beauts are entering their fourth season in the National Women's Hockey League, having won the league title, the Isobel Cup, in 2017. They lost to the Metropolitan Riveters in the 2018 championship game.
Cameranesi is a native of Minnesota and the state will be host to the NWHL's first expansion team, the Whitecaps, based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. But for a number of reason, including the strong leadership she saw from the Pegulas, Cameranesi chose Buffalo instead.