After exploding out of the gates at the onset of her pro career Taylor Accursi isn’t pumping in goals for the Buffalo Beauts with the same regularity, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t contributing in other ways. It’s a different season, a different team, and the 23-year-old is playing a different role for the only NWHL team to appear in all three Isobel Cup Finals. After six goals and 11 points, last season Accursi has just two goals and three points this season, but she’s making the most of where she has been slotted in the lineup this season. She’s been noticeable in other ways – snapping passes to her linemates, recording at least one shot on goal in every game or frustrating her opponents by using her 5-foot-8 frame to get her stick/body in passing lanes.
We spoke to Accursi after she scored the opening goal in a 3-2 road win over the Metropolitan Riveters in the final game before the league’s All-Star Break to find out if coming back to the rink in New Jersey brought back bad memories, how she’s adjusting to her new role, and whether or not the Beauts are primed to make another run at the Isobel Cup.
The Hockey Writers: You scored your second goal of the season today, your first goal since late October. Can you walk us through the play?
Taylor Accursi: I saw the puck was free in the corner, I grabbed it and took the open ice because nobody was in front of me; I just wrapped it around and it went in.
— Women's Sports Highlights (@WSportHilites) February 2, 2019
THW: As a viewer, it seemed like a typical, gritty game between the Beauts and Riveters, is that accurate in your mind?
TA: Oh yeah, definitely. I think this win was good for our team and it gives us a little bit of momentum. We have a couple of weeks off and its always good to win on the road, especially because of last year and past history. They definitely gave us a hard time today, it was a good game.
THW: You come into this building for the first time since losing the Isobel Cup Final 1-0, bad memories or no?
TA: Honestly, I think this rink is one of my favorite rinks to play in. Just the energy and the fanbase here, it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it and I enjoy coming here.
THW: This team this season obviously has a lot of new faces, in your mind what has been the key to success for the Beauts so far?
TA: Just as long as everybody knows their role on the team, and brings their A-Game every single time that we play. That’s really helped us along.
THW: A bit of a different role for you this season, how are you adjusting and adapting to that?
TA: Honestly I’m still having a lot of fun and I might not be putting up the goals that I was last season. Slowly but surely I’m chipping my way back to scoring. As long as I’m playing to my role – blocking shots and playing a good, solid defensive game – if that helps the team win then that’s what I’m going to do.
THW: For a goal scorer like yourself, to get this kind of goal today how much does that help your confidence?
TA: Oh yeah, it definitely helps me get the monkey off my back. This is good momentum for myself and my teammates and I’m excited to hopefully keep it going.
THW: What’s your game day routine for an early start on the road such as today’s game?
TA: Once we get here to the rink I try to stretch out a bit. A bunch of us will play Spike Ball to get a good sweat in. We’ll have a team warmup up and then everybody kind of just does their own thing. I personally don’t have anything specific that I do. I just like to tape my stick, visualize, and hopefully, I’m ready to go!
Getting warmed up in Newark! pic.twitter.com/E4Y0PDY1wS
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) February 2, 2019
THW: So you’re not superstitious like most hockey players are??
TA: Absolutely not. Other than just playing Spike Ball because it’s a lot of fun.
THW: Last season obviously had a disappointing end, how does that fuel you this season as we get closer to the playoffs?
TA: I know a bunch of us (eight players) are returning from last year and it definitely left a sore spot for us. You just have to use that experience and carry it into the playoffs. Anything can happen (there); it doesn’t matter how you ran as a team (in the standings), you just have to bring your A-Game because anything can happen in this league.
THW: Is that something you have to remind yourselves of, that every team is good despite what their record is and the playoffs are single elimination?
TA: Exactly. A lot of the girls already know that and as long as we keep that mentality and work hard I think that we’ll be good.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.