The Buffalo Beauts have added another one of their native daughters. Word was released on the morning of Aug. 20, 2019 that University at Buffalo scoring ace Maddie Norton had been signed by the team. A 5-foot-3 center, Norton is arguably the finest player to have ever come out of UB’s ACHA Division II women’s hockey program.
“Maddie is a dynamic forward with soft hands and outstanding scoring touch,” said Beauts head coach Pete Perram in the press release for the signing.
Norton is the second Buffalonian to be signed by the Beauts, and the team’s 14th signing overall. A sizable portion of UB’s campus is located directly across the street from the Beauts new home, the Northtown Center. Adding one of the school’s very own – especially a player as gifted in scoring as Norton is – will be a draw for fans of the Lady Ice Bulls who are already very familiar with their star’s skills and her on-ice celebrations.
Norton Was a UB Scoring Machine
Norton just graduated from UB earlier this spring. The numbers that she generated prior to graduating are completely eye-popping. Norton never scored less than 20 goals in a season, and that is while never playing in more than 18 games. In fact, her goal totals increased in each of her four seasons – numbers of 20, 34, 37 and 46 respectively.
Asked in the press release what she can bring to the Beauts’ lineup, Norton said, “A determined mindset and energy – a drive to be better every day. I expect to develop into a better overall player that will help bring success to the team. I also expect to learn quite a bit from my new teammates and coaches.”
Norton’s finest season for UB was her senior year performance in 2018-19. She set career highs in both goals and points – 46 tallies and 62 points in only 18 games. Such a performance saw Norton named be named to the ACHA First Team All-Athletics, while also being named the association’s Zoe Harris Player of the Year recipient.
Norton helped lead the Lady Ice Bulls to College Hockey East championship victories in both 2017 and 2018. The team also made it to the ACHA Division II Nationals in each season of her four seasons for UB.
At the close of her collegiate career, Norton had scored 137 goals, 55 assists and 192 points in a mere 61 one regular season games.
Norton Will Spark the Beauts All the Way Around
Though small in stature – in addition to being 5-foot-3, Norton is only 125 pounds – she plays a very complete game. Amid setting those career highs for goals and points, she also totaled up 24 penalty minutes in 2018-19. Norton does not shy from physical play and has scored a sizable number of goals around the net.
Her plethora of goals came in a variety of packages too. 16 of them came on the power play. 17 of Norton’s tallies were game-winners.
Do not let the fact that she played Division II hockey fool you. Our thought is that Norton is going to be the best NWHL player you have never previously heard of. Keep in mind too the success that the Beauts found a couple seasons ago with Division II players like Kristin Lewicki – a player of similar size and ability as Norton. Lewicki became a full-time NWHLer and an All-Star for both Beauts in 2017-18.
Norton could very likely earn a spot on the Beauts’ top line. She certainly deserves a shot, at the very least. Projecting potential lines, Buffalo would have a deadly scoring unit by putting Norton, Corinne Buie and Brooke Stacey together. Our thought would be to place Norton at center, while putting Stacey on the left and Buie on the starboard side.
“Being able to play in the NWHL and for the Beauts means the world to me,” said Norton. “I am being given the opportunity to compete with some of the best players from all around the world, and it’s a blessing. This is a great opportunity to use my voice to raise awareness for the women’s game, which is something I am passionate about.”
As of Aug. 20, here is how the Beauts’ roster currently looks:
Goaltender: Mariah Fujimagari, Kelsey Neumann.
Defender: Meg Delay, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Iveta Klimášová, Lenka Čurmová.
Forward: Corinne Buie, Brooke Stacey, Kim Brown, Becki Bowering, Cassidy MacPherson, Emma Ruggiero, Ashley Birdsall (forward-defender), Maddie Norton.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.