After an incredibly successful season, four members of the Buffalo Beauts have earned 2019 NWHL Awards – Shannon Szabados, Goaltender of the Year; Blake Bolden, Defender of the Year; Maddie Elia, Most Valuable Player; Hayley Scamurra, The Players’ Top Player of the Year.
Scamurra received the honor from the NWHL Players’ Association – the first time the league has awarded an MVP and Players’ Award (as the NHL does with the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award). The MVP, Goaltender of the Year and Defender of the Year were selected by a panel of 20 broadcasters and reporters in cooperation with the Women’s Hockey Media Association.
In her first season in the NWHL, international superstar Szabados was lights-out for the Beauts, making countless big-time saves. Szabados tied for the league lead (with Buffalo goalie partner Nicole Hensley) with two shutouts in the regular season, posting a 1.49 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. Szabados helped the Beauts allow the fewest goals in the league this season, with just 25 goals against in 16 regular season games. In addition to being stellar for the Beauts, Szabados captained her NWHL All-Star team to victory in both the skills competition and All-Star Game. Szabados was selected as Goaltender of the Year from among three finalists, with Boston’s Katie Burt and Connecticut’s Meeri Räisänen.
“I am honored to be named the NWHL Goaltender of the Year,” said Szabados. “I want to thank the league, my teammates, the entire Buffalo Beauts organization and the fanbase for making this an unforgettable season.”
Gina Kingsbury, director of women’s national teams for Hockey Canada, said, “Shannon’s goalie of the year recognition from the NWHL is one we at Hockey Canada are very proud of. Shannon has been a member of our Hockey Canada program for many years and has been a big part of our success as a program. Hockey Canada would like to congratulate Shannon on her excellent season with the Buffalo Beauts and share the pride we have in her accomplishments.”
Bolden returned to the NWHL this season and joined the Beauts for the first time, helping bolster Buffalo’s defensive corps. Bolden made her presence known on both sides of the ice with the Beauts, helping Buffalo post four shutouts in the regular season on the defensive end while tying for the league lead among defenders with 13 points (1-12-13). She also returned to the NWHL All-Star Game, reclaiming her Hardest Shot title with an 80 mph blast. The other finalists for Defender of the Year were Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein and Amanda Boulier.
“I am so happy to be named the NWHL Defender of the Year,” said Bolden. “It was so great to be part of the Beauts family this year and to work with my D partner Pfalzy (Emily Pfalzer). As the season went on, we grew so much as a team. I would not have earned this honor without all of my teammates helping to raise my game.”
Katie Crowley, head coach at Bolden’s alma mater Boston College, said, “Blake has proven to be successful at every level she has had the opportunity to play at. She is a tremendous role model, leader and person and I am so happy for her to be rewarded for her continued success on the ice.”
Former Boston College and Boston Pride teammate Lexi Bender added, "Blake is a great hockey player and better person. She is someone that I have looked up to since I stepped foot onto the BC campus and she is so incredibly deserving of this award! Congrats, Blake!"
Elia took home the Most Valuable Player (as selected by the media) over finalists Jonna Curtis of the Minnesota Whitecaps, Amanda Kessel of the Metropolitan Riveters, Gigi Marvin of the Boston Pride and Räisänen of the Whale. Elia led the league with 12 goals in 16 regular season games, finishing with 19 total points. Elia posted a whopping seven multi-point performances, including a four-point night in a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Whitecaps on Dec. 30. She was named VEDA NWHL Player of the Week for her efforts. In addition to her individual success, Elia helped her line, with Scamurra and Dani Cameranesi, become arguably the most dangerous trio in the NWHL.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
“I am so excited to be named the MVP of this NWHL season,” said Elia. “My teammates are so important to me and obviously the hard work of our entire team is the reason for any success that I experienced. It was a great step forward for myself personally and I feel that the work I put in to round out my game worked out in a positive way.”
Boston University Head Coach Brian Durocher said, “Maddie Elia has made herself into a tremendous two-way player over the past five to six years. Her recognition is a nice reflection on the Beauts organization, and more importantly, it’s a tribute to her as the consummate hockey player. The Boston University hockey family is proud of her success in the National Women’s Hockey League.”
Scamurra was named The Players’ Top Player, voted on by the NWHLPA. Scamurra’s stats speak for themselves, as she led the league with 20 points (10-10-20) in 16 regular season games. Scamurra posted five multi-point performances, including a pair of four-point outings. She also netted a pair of game-winning goals and finished the season with a plus-16 rating. A longtime teammate of Elia’s, the two seemed nearly unstoppable for most of the season, as they finished as the top two scorers in the league. Scamurra’s play in the NWHL this season also helped her earn her first call-ups to the U.S. National Team.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
“This has been such a memorable year for me and to be honored with this award means so much,” said Scamurra. “My Beauts family pushed me to get better every day and my teammates made such a personal impact this season. I want to thank them all, especially my line mates for making this such a fun season.”
Northeastern Head Coach Dave Flint said, “It’s great to see how far Hayley has come. She has really emerged as a top player and to be recognized by her peers in the NWHL, where there are so many great players, is truly an honor. I’m very proud of her.”
Riveters captain Michelle Picard, a teammate of Scamurra’s on the U.S. National Team, added, “Every time we play Buffalo, Scamurra is definitely someone we have to pay attention to and know when she’s on the ice. She is smart with the puck and always a threat to score. She’s a competitor, and I’m looking forward to being teammates during the upcoming World Championships!”
This season was a memorable one for the Buffalo Beauts, an organization that has set a standard for professional women’s hockey in North America. These awards represent the incredible accomplishments of each individual, as well as the Beauts program as a whole.
The NWHL extends its congratulations to Bolden, Szabados, Elia, Scamurra and the Beauts.