Emily Pfalzer was always coming back to Buffalo.
That’s what the 25-year-old defender said Thursday on a media conference call as she official signed with the Beauts for the upcoming National Women’s Hockey League season.
But watching the Beauts add a ton of new talent over the summer only increased her excitement to return to her hometown this year.
“I think there’s no doubt I was going to be coming back to Buffalo but seeing all the people they picked up over the offseason has been amazing,” Pfalzer said. “Starting with Blake Bolden and Sarah Edney, to my two Olympic teammates in Dani Cameranesi and Nicole Hensley, and Shannon Szabados, just to name a few, the list could go on and on. It could be an exciting season.”
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) August 16, 2018
The Beauts are stacked with talent, creating not just a buzz but some high expectations around a team that went to the Isobel Cup finals the first three years of the league, winning it in 2017.
Pfalzer served the first two seasons as the team’s captain. She was not with the club last season, spending the year in residency with the U.S. National Team in the run-up to the 2018 Olympics.
The Getzville native and Nichols graduate added an Olympic gold medal to the three golden IIHF World Championship medals (2015, 2106, and 2017). The former standout at Boston College has embraced playing for her hometown team and being a leader among a growing wave of Western New York natives playing professional hockey.
Among those joining Pfalzer on the Beauts are local products Hayley Scamurra, Maddie Elia, Julianna Iafallo, Jacquie Greco, Julia DiTondo, and Emily Janiga.
“It’s great to have Buffalo-born girls on the team,” Pfalzer said. “It’s awesome to represent your city, a great city, and to be able to play in your city is exciting. I followed them through college. I’m a little older but I always kept tabs on them to see how they were doing. It’s going to be fun to be on the same team.”
In her first two seasons with the Beauts, Pfalzer recorded 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) and leads the franchise in career power-play assists.
Perhaps the biggest number that matters in women’s hockey in the United States at the moment is number of gold medals won. The Americans now have two and the fanfare with which the U.S. team was greeted after winning over the winter has helped elevate the sport, drawing more fans and potentially more investors.
“It’s just important to grow the game however we can,” Pfalzer said. “Every little thing matters I think. Buffalo does a great job promoting women’s hockey and the Pegulas have done a great job supporting women’s hockey. It’s awesome to give little girls the opportunity to dream to one day aspire to be a professional hockey player.”
Speaking of the Pegulas, Pfalzer has yet to experience life in the Pegula Sports and Entertainment universe after Terry and Kim Pegula became the first private owners of an NHWL franchise in December.
“Just from talking to the girls last year and at the end of the season I could see how everything was running,” Pfalzer said. “It’s amazing to see the changes. There’s positivity around the rink. You can see all the games are packed and fans are more excited.”