From her final year playing junior with the Oakville Hornets to her current rookie season for the Buffalo Beauts, center Cassidy MacPherson has only missed a single game. One of the youngest members of the 2019-20 Beauts, MacPherson recently turned 22 years old on Sept. 23. After four strong seasons of NCAA play for Providence College, she is now centering one of the top forward lines in women’s pro hockey.
A quieter, soft-spoken person, MacPherson typically shies away from any limelight. That being said, she is one of Buffalo’s most reliable, most dependable skaters. She hustles each and every shift, and is highly valued by her teammates for her commitment.
“I really take pride in being a two-way player,” MacPherson said, “and playing in the D-zone first. Just playing down low and getting pucks out. I think I work my hardest every single practice and in lift, and hopefully it translates to the game.”
MacPherson took some time to chat between a Beauts workout and an on-ice session to speak more about her place within this closely knit team. Mark our words that as the season continues, she will be instrumental in Buffalo’s overall success. And when Beauts’ opponents are tired and gasping for air in the homestretch, especially come playoff time, MacPherson will be demonstrating her poise further still.
Though they are technically Buffalo’s second-line unit, the trio of MacPherson centering Brooke Stacey at left-wing and Iveta Klimášová on the starboard side is the top scoring force for the Beauts. The Beauts are 3-2-0 through their first five games of the 2019-20 season. Within that time, MacPherson, Stacy and Klimášová have combined for 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists) in only the five contests.
“They’re great!” MacPherson said about her linemates. “They work so hard every single practice, which motivates me to work that much harder. I think we all work really well together, and feed off of each other’s energy.”
It is of course helpful when a center like MacPherson has wingers who can finish as well as Stacey and Klimášová can. Stacey leads the Beauts in scoring (6G, 2A), and has yet to play an NWHL game where she hasn’t gotten on the scoreboard. Klimášová has a howitzer of a shot, and has so far averaged a point per game (1G, 4A) as well for Buffalo. One would hope that Klimášová gets a stab at the “Hardest Shot” competition by the time the NWHL All-Star Weekend comes around.
All three are big bodies up front and are a very difficult unit for other teams to contain. MacPherson is 5-foot-6, but has a long reach and seems much taller than her listed height. Klimášová is a sturdy 5-foot-8 and over 200 pounds, while Stacey is deceptively quick for a taller skater at 5-foot-10. The three of them can easily overwhelm opposing defenses, and have a beautiful blend of sheer strength and soft hands around the net.
MacPherson’s Value to Buffalo
MacPherson’s own numbers are flying under the radar, but they may actually be some of the more important statistics for the Beauts. Of the three primary skaters that Buffalo has used at center – MacPherson, Becki Bowering and Sara Bustad – it is MacPherson who leads the way with a 54% face-off win-percentage. Her 71 draws (38-33) are only one less than Bowering’s team-leading 72.
Speaking to MacPherson’s defensive prowess, her five blocked shots are tied with Kandice Sheriff for the most among Beauts forwards so far this season. They also put her in a four-way tie for most blocks among all Buffalo skaters behind MJ Pelletier’s 11 on the season.
“When I think of Mac,” said Beauts head coach Pete Perram, “I think advanced hockey IQ. She plays a regular shift at center, which is a challenging and important position, as well as spending time on the power play. More than that though, she has a strength of character and she brings that to the culture of the Beauts.”
From Oakville to Providence, and Onto Buffalo
It is no real surprise that MacPherson is a force to be reckoned with up front for Buffalo. After all, this is something she has been doing since her junior career when she initially established herself as an “iron woman”.
A native of Oakville, Ontario, MacPherson played Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) hockey for her hometown Hornets beginning in 2012-13 when she suited up for five games. She would generate seasons of 23 points (9G, 14A) and 22 points (9G, 13A) respectively in 2013-14 and 2014-15. MacPherson co-captained the Hornets in 2014-15, and guided them to a PWHL bronze medal and an Intermediate AA Provincial Championship. She missed just a pair of games in 2013-14, and none at all during the bronze medal run the following season.
MacPherson would go on to play her NCAA career for the Providence College Friars from 2015-16 through 2018-19. She would hit double digits in points during each of her four seasons for the Friars, and scored at least 20 in her sophomore, junior and senior campaigns. MacPherson’s finest season offensively came during her sophomore season of 2016-17 when she established career highs in goals (10) and points (23) through 37 games.
Her final NCAA career totals came to 25 goals, 53 assists and 78 points in 146 games. She also blocked 79 shots in that time too. MacPherson won Friars’ team awards for Most Improved Player (2015-16), the Seventh Player Award (2016-17), and the Unsung Hero Award (2018-19).
An “Iron Woman” Career
146 games is a lot to have compiled in an NCAA women’s hockey career. In fact, those 146 are the most games played by any player in Providence Friars history. MacPherson only missed one game during her entire career as a Friar, and that came during her junior 2017-18 season.
Shortly after graduating from college, she signed her first professional contract with the Beauts on Aug. 6, 2019. MacPherson has played in all five regular season games for Buffalo, and the team’s lone exhibition game against Brock University. In total, she has played 225 games out of a possible 228 across seven seasons, including this present NWHL one.
Asked how she has managed to assemble such a lengthy streak of action, MacPherson responded:
“I would say the big thing is probably strength and conditioning. During the summers and at Providence, the strength coaches I had were great. They really helped us work out to prevent injury from even happening in the first place. I have also been lucky enough to not have any freak accidents.”
“We’re Not Just Beauts – We’re Family!”
The 2019-20 Beauts are everything that represents a true “Buffalo team”: hard-working, determined, tough, welcoming to their supporters. More than anything else though, these Beauts are a family. That is a sentiment that has poured throughout this team and has been warmly accepted.
MacPherson recognizes it too.
“The team is so close already,” she said. “We got super close really fast. The fans and the energy in the rink is incredible. I’ve never played in an arena like this before.”
With nearly a four-week break until their next regular season action, MacPherson and the rest of Beauts continue to bond and develop in unison. They practice twice a week and have a weekly workout. The team also spends plenty of time together off of the ice, whether that is partaking in community events as a team or just being together as friends and hanging out.
MacPherson knows that this sense of family and commitment she and the Beauts are fostering can have lifelong implications. This is part of what makes hockey so special, particularly when there is such meaningful togetherness like the kind found within the walls of “Fort Beaut”.
“The friendships and the people you meet along the way have really influenced who I am today,” MacPherson said. “This has been the biggest impact on my life, and it is continuing here in Buffalo.”