The Buffalo Beauts second signing of the 2020 offseason is just as impressive as their first. Just days after the announcement came that Buffalo’s top scorer Taylor Accursi had re-signed with the club, the team proceeded to bring back one of the best defenders in Beauts history.
Word was released by the NWHL on Apr. 6 that 33-year-old blueliner Lisa Chesson had returned to the team. A member of Team USA’s silver medal winning squad at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Chesson played three seasons for the Beauts from 2016-17 through 2018-19.
“The NWHL has made significant progress over the years in giving us a place to play, but most importantly, making an impact on the next generation of women’s players,” said Chesson in the press release for her signing. “I am beyond excited to have another opportunity to continue to grow the game both on and off the ice, and I’m really looking forward to next season with Buffalo and the NWHL.”
THW takes a look at the Chesson signing and how it immediately bolsters Buffalo’s blue line for the league’s “Season Six”.
A Steadying Presence on the Back End
Chesson will return to her role as the elder stateswoman on the Beauts. A softer spoken individual, she leads by example and has been a steadying presence on Buffalo’s back end in every season that she has played.
Chesson was a member of the Beauts’ Isobel Cup-winning team in 2016-17 – her first season in the league. She played seven regular season games during that championship campaign, picking up three assists along the way. Chesson would play in the Beauts’ semi-final playoff game against the Metropolitan Riveters where she would add another assist before her club would ultimately go on to defeat the Boston Pride in the Final.
“Cheese is a great defenseman,” said Beauts goaltender Kelsey Neumann – a member of that same Isobel Cup-winning Beauts team. “She always has a positive attitude, and the team is lucky to have her back defending the blue line.”
After bringing the Cup home to Buffalo, Chesson continued her solid play in all three zones and would be named an NWHL All-Star in 2018 (Minnesota) and 2019 (Nashville). In 37 NWHL regular season games, she has two goals, 15 assists and 17 points and is plus-11.
“I just try to do something when I can,” Chesson told THW back during the 2018-19 season about her ability to jump into the rush. “I don’t want to force anything. I play ‘D’ as much as I can, and if there’s an opportunity on offense I’ll take it. But I want to make sure there’s people back as well.
NCAA and International Experience
In addition to her solid play on the ice, Chesson brings immediate credibility to the Beauts’ lineup. Turning 34 years old this coming August, she has had a celebrated career at both the collegiate and international levels.
Chesson has 145 NCAA games to her credit. Through four straight seasons with the Ohio State Buckeyes, she went 27-62-89 in scoring. Chesson’s finest season offensively came during her junior 2006-07 season when she was a point per game player and set career highs in goals (13), assists (24), points (37), penalty minutes (32) and plus/minus (+17).
After the completion of her NCAA career, Chesson proceeded to play for the USA Women’s National Team. She would help her country win two gold medals at the Women’s World Championship and a silver. Chesson was also a point-per-game player (2-3-5 in five games) at the 2010 Vancouver Games where USA took silver as well. There she was teammates with former Beauts players Meghan Duggan and Brianne McLaughlin.
A wizened defender who has found success at all levels is exactly what Buffalo could use.
The team’s 2019-20 blue line was very capable but also very young. None of this past season’s Beauts defenders had previous NWHL experience, with the exception of Sarah Casorso who did a 2-game professional tryout. If all or much of the ’19-’20 defense corps returns for Buffalo, they’ll now have a full season under the belts in addition to having Chesson back in the fold as well.
Regardless of how the back end is eventually sculpted, Buffalo fans feel rest assured that they already have one topnotch defender inked for the season ahead. Chesson’s re-signing will likely open the floodgates a bit further.
“Cheese will make a huge impact for us right off the first puck drop,” Accursi told THW. “She’s a great player and I’m excited that she’s back for us on the blue line.”