Lewicki's Wheels Give Beauts Balance
Amidst their nine-game winning streak, the Buffalo Beauts have found the formula for success and their balanced scoring has been remarkable. One game after another a different player or players will step up and make a play, or score a goal, or make a save that will determine the outcome of a game. In their most recent triumph a 2-1 road win over the Metropolitan Riveters, rookie forward Kristin Lewicki had the game-winning goal and goaltender Amanda Leveille turned aside 35 shots.
The previous weekend in another Beauts win in New Jersey (4-3) Lewicki could have had multiple goals as she continuously outraced and terrorized Riveters defenders from zone to zone with glorious scoring chances. But she came up empty, and it obviously didn't phase her at all as she played another solid game and one of the league's smallest players collected a rebound just outside the crease and deposited it behind Katie Fitzgerald.
Lewicki was a prolific scorer at Adrian College and now along with her linemates, they are finding their way in the NWHL game. "Yeah, I definitely have adjusted. At first, I was pretty nervous coming into the season because I knew it was going to be a big jump, coming from DIII, but I just had to get used to it, find my role," the 22-year-old from West Virginia said prior to the 2-1 win. "I think the biggest adjustment was the physical aspect, it's a lot more physical than what I was used to. Obviously, the speed is a lot faster, but that was easy (for me) to adjust to - it was more adjusting to the pace of the games and how much bigger and stronger the other girls are. It's something I had to get used to it, but after a few games and finding out how things work here it wasn't hard to adjust to and I could just play my game."
Lewicki's nickname is 'Wheels' and all you have to do is watch one Beauts game, any Beauts game this season and look for no. 27 in blue zipping up and down the ice. "It's definitely always been my strongest asset - you can see that I'm pretty small so I've usually been one of the smallest players out there on the ice - and I'm probably not the strongest," the 5'2" Lewicki said with a grin. "My speed has always been my top thing, I've always been able to use that to get around defenders and everyone else. That's something I've always really focused on and my speed hasn't dropped off; it's something that's definitely a big help for me."
It even helped get her to the NWHL All-Star Game in Minnesota where she came away winning the Fastest Skater event. Pretty inspirational for any DIII players out there wondering if they can make it to the next level I would think. Last season Lewicki was playing DIII hockey, this season she played in the NWHL All-Star Game alongside players like Kelly Bastock and Rebecca Russo.
"That was definitely a surreal feeling," she said, unable to conceal her smile. "Just being able to be there, being invited was great. To get to meet everyone else, and to get to play with those players, see what they can do - that was a great experience. Winning the NWHL Fastest Skater event (just) added to it and is something I'll remember, but overall the experience and entire weekend is something I'll cherish."
This season over thirteen games Lewicki has five goals and two assists and looking at her game log one thing that jumps out is three times she's recorded points in back-to-back games. For me what was most impressive though was that she had at least one shot on goal in every game, including four in a game twice. She has two game-winning goals this season, one in the game that started the current nine-game winning streak to go along with the most recent on.
Despite all of the adjustments she's made and the success' she's had, Lewicki has loftier goals for herself and her team. "I think I've been alright and I think I could do a lot more. I think I should be able to get at least a goal every game, at least that's how I feel I should be," she said without hesitation. "It's been up and down like you said - I'll score in back-to-back games and then I have a few games with nothing. I just try to focus on getting my head in the game, focus on getting shots on net and making plays happen. If the goals come, they come. But as long as I'm making things happen out there, drawing penalties or getting other people shots - making plays, then I feel like I'm doing pretty well."
One point of motivation for first-year Beauts players this season is upholding the legacy set forth by the two previous incarnations in which the team made the Finals twice, and are obviously now defending Isobel Cup champions. They were there at the home opener when the championship banner was unveiled and the players and coaches were given their beautiful championship rings.
"It's something that's talked about a lot and we're always reminded of it. It's always on our mind and seeing that ceremony with the banner and their championship rings - that's something that we want to experience as well," said Lewicki. "Keep the trophy in Buffalo. We're just taking it step by step and pushing forward to make that happen again."
Regardless of this season's outcome the Beauts have found a gem in Lewicki and would be wise to have her back next season. But for her right now all of the focus is on the end of this season first. "It's definitely different from where I'm from and where I went to college. It's a smaller city but there's still a lot to do, I've done a lot of new things and tried new foods," she said of living in Buffalo this season.
"It's been great living there and having my two roommates from college (Sarah Shureb, Kaylyn Schroka) with me. But yeah, if I had the chance I would consider coming back next year; but I haven't thought too much about that yet. We'll see what happens."
First things first, as Lewicki and the Beauts have one more regular season game left before they attempt to become the first NWHL team to reach the Isobel Cup Final three times, and first to win it twice.
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National Women's Hockey League Stories from March 7, 2018
- Lewicki's Wheels Give Beauts Balance - Buffalo Beauts
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