The Buffalo Beauts have brought back one of the craftiest players to have showcased her skills in the NWHL. Word was released on the morning of Sept. 9, 2019 that veteran forward Taylor Accursi has re-signed with the team for a third straight season. The 5-foot-8 skater is a fan favorite, and well known for stickhandling ability and her spirited goal celebrations.
“We know that Taylor will be a difference-maker for the Beauts, both on and off the ice,” said Buffalo general manager Mandy Cronin in the press release for the signing. “Her experience and leadership will go a long way with our young squad. I’m sure the Beauts’ fans will agree with me that it’s great to have Taylor back.”
Accursi is the Beauts’ 16th signing thus far, and only their third player added to the 2019-20 roster with previous NWHL experience. She will be counted upon in a major way to generate goals during the season ahead.
Previous Seasons With the Beauts
Though only 24 years old, Accursi already has 28 NWHL regular season games under her belt in her two full seasons. She has generated 10 goals and seven assists across that time, thus putting her at a 0.61 points-per-game pace.
Accursi was simply lights-out in her rookie 2017-18 campaign. She was one of six Beauts to reach double digits in points that season. Her explosiveness out of the gate saw her generate five goals in her first three professional games. Accursi would appear in both of Buffalo’s playoff games that same season, as the Beauts made a third straight trip to the Isobel Cup Final.
She was a key returning veteran for Buffalo during this past 2018-19 season, but filled more of a different role. Accursi played on a line with Corinne Buie and Annika Zalewski in what became an effective checking-line/energy-line for Buffalo. The trio were typically called upon to forecheck tenaciously and stymie the better scorers of the opposition.
That being the case, Accursi’s point totals dropped somewhat in her sophomore season – six points (4G, 2A) within 13 games. However, she finished out the season strong, with five points (3G, 2A) in her final five games. Accursi would again play in both of Buffalo’s postseason contests, as the team made an unprecedented fourth straight trip to the Final.
Though she has made it to the championship game in each of her seasons, Accursi and the Beauts came up just short in both appearances, losing by a single tally in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
A Career Year Ahead for Accursi
It is unlikely that Beauts head coach Pete Perram will reserve Accursi for any sort of a checking role this time around. Rather, Buffalo would be served better by placing her on their top scoring line, and may need to do just that.
While the Beauts look quite strong defensively, they are limited in the number of natural scorers on their roster at the present moment – at least ones that are proven at the NWHL level.
Accursi on the other hand is a natural, is proven, and is capable of scoring in double digits. When it comes to stats columns, 2019-20 could be a season that the sniper with the long blond ponytail puts forth her highest point total and is Buffalo’s most potent weapon. In fact, it seems a likelihood.
“My goal is to bring a lot of energy, leadership, smiles and hopefully cellys to the Beauts and our fans this season,” Accursi said in the release for her signing.
The option is always there to reunite both Accursi and Buie on the same line once more. When it comes to the Beauts power play, this would seem to be pretty much a no-brainer.
Playing at even strength though will be a question for Perram to decide. Does he spread out the wealth, and potentially have two dangerous lines by rolling with Buie on one and Accursi on the other? Or does he combine the two because they have such reliable chemistry with one another?
If Accursi and Buie are in fact reunited, it would be a very deadly trio if Brooke Stacey is then partnered along with them. All three are bigger bodies, can put up numbers, and are very aggressive in their attack.
The “ABS-line” – Accursi, Buie and Stacey – that could very well be Buffalo’s number-one line right there.
As of Sept. 9, here is how the Beauts’ roster currently looks:
Goaltender: Mariah Fujimagari, Kelsey Neumann.
Defender: Meg Delay, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Iveta Klimášová, Lenka Čurmová.
Forward: Corinne Buie, Brooke Stacey, Kim Brown, Becki Bowering, Cassidy MacPherson, Emma Ruggiero, Ashley Birdsall (forward-defender), Maddie Norton, Kandice Sheriff, Taylor Accursi.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.