Former Lady Icer Harrington Signs with NWHL's Buffalo Beauts

Former Lady Icer Paige Harrington, who spent her freshman 2011-12 season at Penn State before transferring to complete her collegiate career at Massachusetts, has signed with the Buffalo Beauts of the newly-formed National Women's Hockey League, the NWHL announced on Tuesday.

In her time with the Lady Icers, Harrington - along with ten players who would go on to skate for the Lady Ice Lions following the 2012 shakeup of the Penn State hockey landscape - helped the team to the ECWHL regular season title with a 7-2-1 conference mark. In 22 recorded games, she posted a goal and two assists, with the tally one of the end-to-end rushes that would become her trademark and the game-winning goal in the ECWHL clincher against Vermont on February 19, 2012.

The 5'11" communications major from Mansfield, MA then spent three years with the Minutewomen finishing with an incredible haul of team and individual honors. She ended up with five total ECWHL crowns after pulling off regular season and playoff doubles with UMass in 2012-13 and 2014-15, while also helping that team to three consecutive ACHA Division 1 national tournaments including a runner-up finish in 2013-14. This past season, she was a first-team All-American and first-time All-ECWHL while posting 10 goals and 16 assists in 28 games.

Harrington was a star internationally as well, featuring on the U.S. National University Team at both the 2013 and 2015 World University Games tournaments. In competitions including senior national team players from several different countries, she was a two-time alternate captain who managed four assists in 12 games, as well as helping Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2013 Trentino Games. The medal was just the second ever by an American team (men or women) at the World University Games and the first since USA Hockey re-entered the biennial event using ACHA players in 2001.

"I was not ready to hang up my skates after college, and I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to play at the professional level," Harrington told NWHL.co, "This is a huge step for women's hockey and to be a part of history in the making is incredible."

The NWHL, of course, made headlines upon its spring launch as the first North American women's hockey league that will pay its players, with salaries ranging between $10,000 and $25,000 per year. It will begin a 36-game regular-season schedule on October 11th with four founding teams: the Buffalo Beauts, the Connecticut Whale, the New York Riveters and the Boston Pride. The Beauts' home rink will be downtown Buffalo's HarborCenter, a rink complex constructed by Penn State hockey benefactor Terry Pegula that opened last year.

The Western New Yorkers didn't limit their ACHA scouting to Harrington, as they also signed two-time Zoe M. Harris Award winner Hayley Williams, who ripped off 59 points in 30 games for Miami last season, second only to the Lady Ice Lions' Darby Kern among ACHA Division 1 players. Williams also skated for Robert Morris (IL) in 2013-14. Penn State went 2-3-1 against the two newly-professional players last season, beating each once.

Significantly, one of the Beauts' co-head coaches will be Shelley Looney, the gold-medal-winning goal scorer from the 1998 Nagano Olympics, who was an assistant coach for both Harrington and Williams at the 2015 World University Games. Former Buffalo Sabres forward Ric Seiling is the other co-head coach. Other notables who have signed with the team ahead of this weekend's free agency deadline include frequent U.S. national team goalie Brianne McLaughlin, mobile blueliner Kelly McDonald from the University of Maine and scrappy former RIT forward Erin Zach.

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