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Owner of Sabres and Bills buys NWHL franchise in Buffalo

The Buffalo Beauts, who won the NWHL championship last winter, have been purchased by the owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

The owners of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and the NFL’s Buffalo Bills have purchased the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League, the NWHL announced Thursday.

Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the Sabres in 2011 and opened the HarborCenter Arena in Buffalo in 2014. This is the first time that owners of an NHL team have purchased a women’s professional hockey league team. Pegula Sports and Entertainment will be taking over operations of the Beauts, who won the NWHL’s Isobel Cup last February.

“We want to contribute to the growth of women’s hockey,” Kim Pegula said. “HarborCenter has allowed us to make a positive impact on the game at the amateur, high school and collegiate levels, and we believe this is the perfect time to expand our reach to include women’s professional hockey through the NWHL. This sport provides outstanding opportunities, and we are committed to helping extend those opportunities to females of all ages.”

The Beauts are one of four teams in the NWHL, which is in the midst of its third season. The Connecticut Whale, based out of Stamford, are one of the four teams in the league along with the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters out of Newark, N.J. The league owns the Whale, Pride and Riveters.

“This extraordinary commitment from Kim and Terry Pegula – a complete acquisition of one of our Founding Four teams by NHL owners – is a landmark moment for the NWHL, our players and fans, and women’s hockey,” said Dani Ryan, founder and commissioner of the NWHL. “We thank Kim and Terry for believing in the Beauts and in the mission of our league to fuel the continued growth of our sport around the world. Supporters of women’s hockey should take enormous pride in this significant step for our game.”

The Pegula’s own the Sabres, Bills, the National Lacrosse League’s Buffalo Bandits, an outdoor lacrosse team and the Rochester Americans, an American Hockey League franchise.

It’s not the first partnership between the NWHL and the National Hockey League. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Devils formed a strategic partnership with the Riveters, who play their home games at the Devils’ practice facility in Newark.

The Riveters renamed the team to the Metropolitan Riveters and changed their uniform color scheme to match the Devils. More importantly, the Devils and Prudential Center pledged to share their vast resources to enhance the Riveters’ operations – including marketing, sales, events, game presentation and facilities.

The Devils and Riveters hosted a unique NWHL-NHL doubleheader on Saturday, Oct. 28 on the Prudential Center ice where the Devils play. The Prudential Center hosted the Riveters’ season opener against the Boston Pride at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Devils hosting the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. Riveters season ticket holders received tickets to the Devils game that night, and Devils season ticket holders received their usual Prudential Center seats for the Riveters-Pride game.

The NWHL season is on a holiday break and resumes on January 6.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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