The Buffalo Beauts have started a four-game exhibition series against Russia’s National Women’s Ice Hockey Team. The Russian roster will feature 12 players who participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics, including Galina Skiba, who was one of the players banned from the Olympics for doping.
All of the games are free and open to the public and will be played at various rinks in Ontario.
Beauts General Manager Nik Fattey said they tried to remove any barriers, including cost, to attract people to the games. One thing in the Beauts favor, they have top-tier Canadian talent like world renowned goalie Shannon Szabados.
“We have a lot of strong Canadian fans in the area,” said Fattey. “With the addition of Shannon, it’s really gotten the attention of the Canadian market. It’s a really good chance for them to catch her and at the same time, hopefully it attracts a few more down. No different than the Sabres do. With the relationship they have in Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Hamilton and everything else.”
The games make sense with the Russian Women’s Hockey League on break at the moment. Fattey said the NWHL has a good relationship with the Russian national team, so they typically do a tour facing some of the other NWHL teams during Russia’s offseason.
“This year, after the offseason that they heard about the Beauts and some of our players. They reached out to the league and contacted us about playing a few games against the Beauts,” said Fattey. “(We decided on Ontario) kind of through the league as far of location wise because of travel and visas. Canada is a pretty good spot to meet. It worked out pretty well.”
Fattey said the timing works out with the HarborCenter booked up at the moment.
“It’s just good for us to be here in a different space for our players,” he said. “Instead of doing both spots, let’s just settle and play over in Canada."
The Beauts play Thursday night at the Ridley College Arena in St. Catharines, Ontario. They play again Saturday and Sunday night in Niagara Falls, Ontario at the Gale Centre. Their final matchup will be next Tuesday at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre in St. Catharines at 4:15 PM.