Sunday, 10 January 2016

Nations Cup gold provides Shelby Bram a unique place in NWHL history

Having quickly established herself as one of the most talented Canadian-born players in the NWHL, donning the colors of the Buffalo Beauts, the opportunity to claim the gold medal at the 2016 Nations Cup has resulted in Shelby Bram gaining a unique place in hockey history. Competing with Canada’s national team Under-22/Development Team, Bram was one of the veteran leaders propelling the team to a gold medal triumph against Finland.

Of note, Bram made her first appearance with the Under-22/Development Team in 2012, earning a bronze medal at the Meco Cup. Having also played for Canada at the 2011 IIHF U18 Women's Worlds, Bram was part of a silver medal effort in the event. For Bram, gold at the 2016 edition of the Nations Cup represents sweet redemption. 

Several 2015 NWHL Draft picks also played alongside Bram in the golden outcome. Shannon MacAulay, a fifth round pick of the Boston Pride was joined by current Clarkson Golden Knights teammate Erin Ambrose, a New York Riveters pick. As a side note, Bram played with Ambrose at the 2011 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.

Goaltender Amanda Leveille, selected by the Beauts in the third round made 22 saves in the gold medal game against Finland. She may call Bram a teammate again next season in Buffalo. Obtained in the fifth round by the Connecticut Whale, Cassandra Poudrier, a product of the Cornell Big Red was also part of Canada’s roster.  Cornell teammate Hanna Bunton was one of Bram’s linemates at the event, joined by Boston University freshman Rebecca Leslie.

Although the gold medal adds to an already impressive list of hockey accomplishments, it allows Bram to become a more prominent part of the NWHL’s nascent history. While the 2015 4 Nations Cup represented the first international women’s hockey event that featured players from the incipient league, all involved players were donning the USA Hockey jersey.

Bram becomes the first player signed to an NWHL contract to appear with one of Canada’s national teams in international competition. Such a feat actually complements another one of Bram’s historic brushes with history. In the autumn of 2015, Bram and her older sister Bailey were both invited to the training camp of Canada’s national senior team, led by head coach Laura Schuler.   

During said camp, Shelby became the first player to attend a Hockey Canada training camp that was also signed to an NWHL contract. Once again, Bram was part of a unique chapter in Canadian women’s hockey history.

As the 2015-16 women’s hockey season approaches its stretch run, there is no shortage of history-making opportunities for Bram. Named to the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, the event shall take place on January 24 at Buffalo’s Harbor Center, allowing Bram to compete on home ice.

It was the same ice where Bram earned the assist on former Mercyhurst teammate Kelley Steadman's goal (the first in Beauts history) to become the first Canadian to log a point in Buffalo Beauts history, doing so in the club's inaugural game. One of three Canadians, along with Kaleigh Fratkin and Jaimie Leonoff, named as participants in the All-Star Game, all will be working collectively as members of Team Knight to gain the win. 

It would also present a great moment to make history again as Bram will try to be the first Canadian to log a point in All-Star Game history. Such a feat would certainly come as no surprise to the hometown faithful, who have been spoiled by Bram's swift skating and strong playmaking skills.  

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