|9/24/2021 11:17:00 AM|
Budde makes it big in Buffalo in women's hockey
by JEFF NORTONMost 24 year olds are lucky if they’ve taken a spring break trip here or a semester abroad there, but Chisago Lakes’ Amy Budde not only has traveled around the world already, but she has traveled around the world doing what she loves: playing hockey.
And that has brought her to the top women’s league in the United States in the Premier Hockey Federation. Budde signed with the Buffalo Beauts earlier this summer and will be making her debut in November for the team when they kick off their season.
Budde’s journey began in White Bear Lake, where she lived until third grade before coming up to the Chisago Lakes area. “My family was really into hockey and it was just a different experience for us being at Chisago Lakes than the big city of White Bear Lake,” Budde said. “It was a lot more involved, and my mom was the coach. We really saw a lot of game action, and that helped my development a ton.”
Despite being very undersized, Budde didn’t play in the youth leagues long, as her talent and skill made her one of the top performers at her level. She was regularily playing varsity minutes by her eighth grade year in Chisago Lakes and then went on to start nearly every game for four years straight. She compiled 77 points in her career including 33 goals and 44 assists and participated in a state tournament team for CL.
Despite her obvious talent, her small stature and small school status didn’t draw her a ton of Division I hockey looks. She eventually went to Lake Forest College in Illinois and played for the Foresters. It was in Lake Forest that she blossomed even more as a hockey player. She scored 25 points her first season, and then built on that with 37, 36 and 33 points in her subsequent three years. her 131 points are third all time at Lake Forest, as is her 61 goals. She’s second on their career list in assists with 70.
As the gaudy numbers piled up, professional leagues started to notice, but there also isn’t a ton of options for a women’s hockey player after college, so Budde weighed her different paths and chose to go to Sweden to play professionally. That choice eventually paid off for multiple reasons. She had graduated from Lake Forest in the summer of 2019, and then packed her bags for Sweden’s season in late August of 2019. She began the season a bit nervous as every other American “import” on the Swedish team played Division I hockey.
“It was already nerve-wracking to play as the only Division III player, but it just put another chip on my shoulder,” she said.
As she began playing there, the COVID-19 pandemic started to take over the world, but Sweden went with the strategy of herd immunity and shut almost nothing down. There were certainly limitations on gatherings, but Budde was able to play straight through the pandemic. She said there were no playing restrictions for her squad.
She put in two years in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League, scoring 23 points at the highest level the Scandinavian country head to offer, and this summer, she was all ready to head back for a third year. She liked her teammates, liked the job she had in Sweden and loved the culture.
But, as she was making preparations for another year in Sweden, she got a call from Nate Oliver, the general manager of the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League (which has now been rebranded as the PHF).
“I didn’t want to be rude, so I heard him out when he said they were interested in me,” Budde explained.
She said she let Oliver know she was planning on heading back to Sweden, but he wanted a week to work on recruiting her. He came back to her within those seven days and had a job lined up in communications for Budde and an upgraded career and living set up to what she was used to in Sweden. “They just blew it away. I almost had no other choice. I’ll miss Sweden but I’m excited for Buffalo,” Budde said. “I chose to sign with the Beauts because of the wonderful culture, and the dedicated and driven character that the Beauts have.Sensing that from the entire organization is what drew me to the team. I want to win and I believe that Buffalo is the team to do that with.”
“Amy is going to be able to provide some consistent secondary scoring for us this season,” Oliver said. “One thing we struggled with in Lake Placid was our offensive depth. By adding an experienced forward like Amy who has scored at the collegiate level, as well as being a consistent scorer for one of the middle-lower tiered SDHL teams, we have added to our depth and have found a dependable weapon. We also love Amy's character and what she will bring to our Beauts locker room.”
Budde isn’t sure if Buffalo is her last stop, or just the beginning of a new career in the PFL. “I just love playing. Nothing helped me with a bad day more than hockey. I’ve always wanted to play the game. It’s when I have the most fun and would do it for free. I’m still just obsessed with the game.”
Going into the season, Budde said she is going to do everything she can to help the team win the Isobel Cup, the PFL’s equivalent to the Stanley Cup. She doesn’t have any individual goals, and has shied away from ever setting them. She says they can get in the way of the team goals.
Budde will be heading to Buffalo at the end of September and their camp starts on October 1. She’ll debut on Saturday, November 6 when the Beauts play the Toronto Six. She will potentially make her professional debut in Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12. The Beauts will play the Minnesota Whitecaps at the TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
But, Budde has never looked too far into the future. She’s focused on the present and what she can do each day to help the Beauts get better. It’s how she’s approach every practice, game and film session in her career. It’s that attitude and work ethic that has carried her this far, and it’s a great example for young Chisago Lakes’ female hockey players to follow. She’s still undersized at just 5’5”, but that hasn’t stopped her from reaching the pinnacle of womens hockey in the United States. “Size doesn’t matter. You just have to take the opportunities that are given to you and do your best,” she said. “ You’ll always end up where you’re supposed to be. It can suck in the moment to be doubted, but play with a chip on your shoulder and make the most of your opportunities. Control your effort and attitude and nothing else. Everything will be as it should.”