While so many of her teammates with the Buffalo Beauts over the past two seasons decided not to return to the NWHL for its fifth season, forward Taylor Accursi was somewhat on the fence. On Sept. 9 she eventually re-signed and with six points (3g-3a) in her first seven games, the Ontario native has already matched her point total from last season (13 games). Looking back, there was a moment this summer that swayed her to return to Buffalo for her third season.
Growing the Game
“I worked at a clinic down in Tampa (Aug. 16) where I was asked to go there and represent the NWHL,” explained Accursi, who hadn’t re-signed with the Beauts at that time. “So we’re down there and were just about to go on the ice with some of the smaller kids. I look over and see this little girl with this shirt on with (my) number 95 on it. She came over and asked me if I played for the Beauts.”
“That was really a huge turning point for me in my decision to come back,” said the 24-year-old. “It was a strong message. If we are able to reach kids all the way down in Florida while playing in this league, then absolutely why not come back? Right now I have the time to do it and I may not have the time to do it in the future.”
Through her two-plus seasons in the NWHL Accursi may be best known for her goal celebrations, which are often enthusiastic and eye-catching. She’s been (aptly) dubbed ‘The Celly Queen’ (in addition to ‘The Blonde Bomber’ and ‘The Magnificent Accursi’) and she made sure during that weekend clinic in Florida to bestow some of her wisdom and knowledge upon the young players on how to celebrate a goal the right way and most importantly, have fun.
“Absolutely,” replied Accursi with an ear-to-ear grin. “That was one of my main things. During every drill, I told them: if you score, celebrate! That’s what a lot of the girls were doing and it was fun to see them having that much fun.”
The Ovi Factor
As she went on to reveal, the love of the game and more importantly having fun while playing the game comes from a player that she enjoyed watching growing up and still does to this day. “Growing up a player I looked up to was Alexander Ovechkin (of the Washington Capitals). He never held back, and it takes a lot of work to score a goal. It doesn’t matter if you get 50 or if you get two,” said Accursi, who is currently tied for third on her team in points.
“I think you should always have the same emotion because there’s a lot of hard work that goes into that behind the scenes. Not everybody is able to score goals so when you do, you definitely have to live in the moment.”
New Beauts, Who Dis?
As one of only three returning players (Corinne Buie, Kelsey Neumann) Accursi has taken on a bit of a leadership role with Buffalo’s team this year, sporting an A on her jersey as an alternate captain; although she exclaimed that the ‘A is for Accursi’ with a laugh before we could finish our question! But with so many new faces and names on the team, it is an important role as several first-time NWHLers try to navigate their way through the season.
“It’s awesome,” she said of being selected as a part of the Beauts’ leadership. “I feel like I’ve lived up to that role. It just kind of comes naturally from me, especially in certain situations, to step up and have a voice for everybody on our team. I’m not really afraid of sharing my opinions or anyone else’s opinions. I think maybe that is why I was given that role.”
“At the beginning of the season we did a lot of team bonding and I gave everybody a piece of tape so they could write their last name on it,” revealed Accursi. “That’s kind of how everybody got to know each other.”
Beauts Making Impact in Buffalo Community
If you follow the Beauts on social media you may have noticed that they have been very active in their local community. Radio and television appearances, hospital visits, trick or treating with kids, hanging out at a pumpkin farm. The NWHL is only in its fifth season, so there are a lot of people out there that may not know that they even exist. So getting out in public in their Beauts’ Blue jerseys and interacting with fans of all ages and genders helps build those bridges to the local community that they play in. Building a fan base is important, and Accursi and her Beauts teammates have certainly been making an impact.
“Honestly I think I have more fun than the people who are attending those events,” replied Accursi when asked about really getting out and growing their team’s brand on a grassroots level. “It’s really big for me and I love being out in the community. Being able to get the word out about the NWHL, and even if they do know about it, just being able to talk with them, tell them about Twitch, and share our home schedule. Just being able to have that voice outside of the rink is awesome.”
“The most recent thing we did was a Children’s Hospital visit and I think I had more fun than I’ve ever had while being there,” said Accursi. “Being able to go around and make a difference in someone else’s life is great and I’m looking forward to going around and doing more things like that.”
One thing is certain after you get to know Accursi – there is not much in life that she doesn’t have fun doing, and those are the types of players that the NWHL needs if they are to continue to grow their league and brand.
“I think life is too short to not have a good time, that’s pretty much how I carry myself all the time,” she added with a smile.
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.