Orange assistant coach Claudia Kepler is returning to the ice to play for the Buffalo Beauts of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF). Kepler, who will continue her role with the Orange coaching staff, previously played professional hockey in China and Sweden after a standout collegiate career. In 2019-20 where she played for KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen in Russia’s women’s professional hockey league, the ЖХЛ, as a sport ambassador/professional hockey player for Women’s Hockey League (WHL) champion HC Kunlun Red Stars in China and she also played for the Russian Hockey League in the WHL. She helped KRS to the championship. In 2018-19 she played professionally for HV71 in Sweden where she also coached a Swedish girls youth team to learn how to coach in a different language.
The Verona, Wisconsin native compiled 60 goals, 32 assists and 92 points in 145 NCAA games at Wisconsin and Ohio State. She played forward as a team captain for Wisconsin in 2017-18, when the team advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four and won the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference (WCHA) regular season championship. The 2018 second-team All-WCHA performer led the Badgers in goals scored and led the WCHA in power-play goals as a senior. In May 2020, she created Hockey EDU, a personal hockey coaching business.
Kepler played the first three years of her collegiate career at Ohio State, where she led the team in goals scored in every season and led the Buckeyes in scoring in her junior year. The four-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award winner earned her degree in life sciences communication from Wisconsin in 2018.
“Claudia is a player whom our organization has been familiar with for quite some time,” said Beauts GM Nate Oliver. “She is a very talented goal scorer and has played with and against the very best players in the world. Claudia is also a proven champion as evidenced by her time in Russia with KRS. She is very potent around the net and adds tremendous character to the locker room. Just a very positive, upbeat individual who loves to win and wills her team to do so.”
Syracuse will resume the season on January 1st at the Battle at the Burgh Tournament in Pittsburgh. The Orange are scheduled to play Boston University in the first game on Saturday, Jan. 1st (4 pm) and will play either Penn State or St. Cloud game in the second contest on Sunday, Jan. 2nd.