The Buffalo Beauts first signing of the offseason may very well be their most important for the NWHL’s Season Six. “The Blond Bomber”, “The Celly Queen” – whatever moniker you like to refer to her by – Taylor Accursi is one of the premier goal scorers in women’s hockey. We now know that she will be back in Buffalo for a fourth straight season.
Word was released by the league on Apr. 2 that Accursi had re-signed with the Beauts for the 2020-21 season.
“Buffalo and the Beauts have been really good to me for the past three years, so it made sense to come back and have fun playing in a great league, surrounded by outstanding players, teammates and especially our fans,” Accursi said in the press release for her signing. “Having the opportunity to once again represent something so much bigger than myself made it an easy decision to return to the NWHL and continue the growth of women’s hockey.”
Buffalo fans were elated over the news. Messages like “Merci, merci – we’ve got Accursi!”, “Woohoo! Welcome back, Taylor!”, and “The start of what will be a very successful ’20-’21 season” came through on Beauts social media in the moments following the signing.
Setting Records and Earning an All-Star Nod
The Beauts’ recently completed 2019-20 season belonged to Accursi. Going 16-9-25 through 24 regular season games, she led her club in both goals and points. Those same 16 goals placed her in the top-5 goal scorers for the entire league. Accursi was also the only Beauts player to average better than a point per game among skaters playing at least 15 games.
Twice during the season she had point streaks of five straight games. In both instances, Accursi scored nine points in the five games. Three times she recorded multi-goal games. That included scoring five goals in less than 24 hours in back-to-back games against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Nov. 23 and 24, as well as her historic 4-goal third period performance in the “Labatt Blue NWHL Buffalo Believes Classic” outdoor game against the Metropolitan Riveters.
Accursi was selected to play in her first NWHL All-Star Game – one of six Beauts chosen for the event – in Boston on Feb. 9.
The 16 goals and 25 points became new franchise marks by a player in one season. By season’s end, Accursi had compiled 26 goals, 16 assists and 42 career points in 52 NWHL regular season games. Those 26 goals also became a new team record for career goals by a Buffalo player.
The one record that eluded her just came down to the wire. Having gone scoreless in the final three games of 2019-20, Accursi would end the season locked in a 3-way tie with Corinne Buie and Kourtney Kunichika for the team’s all-time points record. All three players have scored scored 42 points while in a Buffalo uniform.
Knowing that she is now inked for the upcoming season, it is only a matter of time before Accursi breaks the record. While she will undoubtedly increase the new total quite substantially, she needs just a mere point to own it outright.
“I believe that the next point I get will be due to hard work and dedication,” Accursi told THW. “Just like all the other points. But I also think that the next point will definitely weigh a little more than the rest.”
When the time comes, Accursi will have achieved the record partially because of the fact that she has never hesitated to let shots fly. Her 69 shots on goal led all Beauts players this past season. There was only one game of her 24 in which she did not get a puck to the net.
What Lies Ahead for Season Six
The obvious question becomes: “Well, Accursi signed first, but which Beaut signs next?”. Despite Buffalo’s early playoff exit and slide in the standings, there were plenty of bright spots on the roster.
Rookie defender M.J. Pelletier set plenty of records of her own, and was easily Buffalo’s top blueliner. Slovakian forward Iveta Klimášová tied Pelletier in setting a new Beauts record for assists in one season (15). Team captain and original NWHLer Corinne Buie was solid in both ends of the ice as always.
And those are just a handful of the players definitely worth re-signing in Buffalo. All obvious selections too.
But will there be any new faces that decide to come to “The City of Good Neighbors”?
The NWHL has already announced five player signings – including Accursi’s – for the 2020-21 season. Three of them are returners to the Riveters – Madison Packer, Rebecca Morse and Kendall Cornine – while the other, goaltender Brooke Wolejko, has re-signed with the Connecticut Whale. There has yet to be a player signed though that did not play in the NWHL this past season.
Knowing that the Beauts have already brought back their top sniper is a definite incentive for players to make Buffalo their signing destination.
“I would definitely like to think that new players would consider Buffalo to be a great playing destination,” Accursi said. “Not because of me, but because of the atmosphere that fans present.”
Accursi is the first, but far from the last. A topnotch playmaker who can feed her pucks and be a setup artist for the sniper would behoove Buffalo to find.
It is a very long offseason still to go, and we are sure that there will be plenty more exciting additions to the 2020-21 Buffalo Beauts. As always, THW will keep readers in touch with all NWHL signings as they take place.