While some 19,000 fans were driving home from a Sabres loss at the First Niagara Center, a two time U.S. Olympic silver medalist was putting on a show across the street at the HarborCenter.
Meghan Duggan showed why she has become a star for the Buffalo Beauts in their Sunday afternoon tilt against the New York Riveters. Duggan, the games 1st star, scored a highlight reel goal that ended up being the game winner, and added an assist in the Beauts 5-1 victory.
“She forechecks, she backchecks, she earns her paycheck,” said General Manager Linda Mroz following the game.
On Duggan’s second period goal, she raced past the first defender, used her 5’10 frame to get leverage on the second defender, and roofed a perfect wrist shot top shelf over All-Star goaltender Nana Fujimoto’s shoulder. It was maybe the Beaut’s nicest goal all season.
After being a noteworthy signing in the offseason due to her international success, Duggan now has 6 goals and 11 assists in 15 games. Good for second on the team.
“It’s been truly an honor. Growing up I always looked up to Meghan Duggan, being the captain of the U.S. team. I know I’m from Canada, and I know she was always a huge rival for us, but she’s an unbelievable player.” said Duggan’s line mate Shelby Bram.
Duggan wasn’t the only Beaut that had a good day against the Riveters. Fellow U.S. Olympian Megan Bozek opened the scoring for the Beauts on a great individual effort early in the first period. Bozek had the Riveters defenders chasing her around the offensive zone before scoring on her signature slap shot, which won hardest shot at the NWHL All-Star Game at 88 miles per hour.
The Riveters responded quickly with a penalty shot goal from Bray Ketchum, before the Beauts took over again. Duggan found the net shortly into the second, and the Beauts took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd intermission.
In the third period the Beauts dominated from start to finish. They outshot the Riveters 15-3 in the period, and scored all three goals in the period. Forward Tatiana Rafter followed up on a rebound opportunity with a great backhand shot over the shoulder Fujimoto to make it 3-1. Just over two minutes later, forward Kourtney Kunichika one timed a Duggan pass through Fujimoto’s five hole for her 10th goal of the season to make it 4-1. Kelley Steadman added an empty net goal just before regulation to seal the 5-1 victory.
The Beauts will return home next Sunday for their regular season finale against the Boston Pride. The Pride have won 9 of their last 10, as well as 6 in a row, and sit a top the NWHL standings. The Beauts will then travel to Conneticut, to face the 2nd place Whale in a best of three playoff series for a birth in the first ever Isobel Cup.
Myself and WGR's Brayton Wilson had the call for the game.