The NWHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning are teaming up to host street hockey and on-ice clinics in Tampa, Florida. A primary goal of the event is so that young girls who are newcomers to the game can learn from the pros. The clinics are scheduled for Friday evening Aug. 16, 2019 at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum.
One of the professional players representing the NWHL is Buffalo Beauts forward Taylor Accursi. While Accursi is not presently under contract yet for the team or the league, she is one of a handful of players that played for the Beauts for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 NWHL seasons.
Accursi and Boston Pride defender Mallory Souliotis will serve as guest coaches for both the street and on-ice sessions.
“The opportunity came up because the hockey community is very small!” Accursi told THW enthusiastically. “One of my friends from college asked me if I was interested, and of course I was! So that’s how the ball got rolling.”
The clinics are being hosted by Lightning Made, the Lightning Community Hockey Department that is growing the game at all ages, genders, and levels. The NWHL’s participation in these efforts to advance girls’ and women’s hockey in Tampa Bay are part of the Jr. NWHL Summer Clinic Series, a slate of youth hockey events coming to a number of cities across the U.S. this summer.
Accursi Is a Natural Ambassador
Of all of the players to have graced the NWHL, Accursi is one of the most upbeat and friendliest. She always has a smile on her face – especially when generating offense – and is very good at interacting with young athletes.
In 28 regular season NWHL games – all played with the Beauts – Accursi has scored 10 goals and seven assists. She was lights-out in her rookie 2017-18 campaign, when she tallied six goals and five assists for 11 points in 15 games. Accursi scored five goals in her first three professional games.
The NWHL coaches and Lightning Made staff will teach participants stickhandling, shooting, passing, and other basic hockey skills. Accursi’s own skills will be naturally appealing to the young athletes in attendance for the clinics.
“As far as the off-ice and on ice portions,” she said, “I am not too sure about the exact details but we will be making appearances at both. The focus for me is just to have the kids excited about hockey! Give them the same feeling I have when I walk into a hockey setting.”
“The Magnificent Accursi”
Excitement over hockey is a given anytime Accursi scores a goal. In addition to her 10 professional goals, she also tallied 15 in 123 NCAA games for the Mercyhurst Lakers. Accursi is a “celly queen”, and whenever she puts home a puck she leaps into the air and then sweeps the ice with her glove after she has landed.
One of Accursi’s assets that has enabled her to score goals so frequently in the NWHL is her incredible stickhandling. She possesses an almost magician-like ability to dipsy-doodle with a puck, slip it between her skates, and carry it by defenders practically undressing them. Stickhandling is a craft that Accursi is continuously working to perfect.
While it appears to come naturally for her, we asked Accursi how she plans to impart stickhandling skills to the young athletes attending the clinics.
“I think (when) teaching anything to kids,” Accursi explained, “you have to keep them interested. So keeping things fun and exciting, while being challenging, will be the best way to teach the kiddos.”
Growing up With Street Hockey
When Aug. 16 arrives, the street hockey clinic will begin at 6 pm and the on-ice session is set for 7:45 pm. Registration for both clinics can be found here.
Ice hockey equipment can be quite expensive, and frankly it is difficult for some families to afford. However, street hockey has always been and always will be something more readily available for all. A second-hand stick, a tennis ball and paved asphalt is all anyone really needs. Makeshift nets are just as common as well.
The game of hockey has grown enough that youngsters playing street hockey has become just as much a North American pastime as any other sport or recreational activity.
It is something Accursi can relate to as well:
“I have the best memories playing street hockey!” she told THW. “All the kids on my street would come down and play, and in some cases so would their dads – mine included. As much as I loved scoring – and still do – I also made a pretty good street hockey goalie, so we will see what happens at the clinic down in Tampa! But all in all, I am so excited to pay it forward and grateful for the opportunity.”
Bound to Be Great Time for All
For those even marginally interested in having their youngsters attend the clinics, please do so. It is bound to be great time for all, and that will be in part due to the affability of Accursi. We are certain she will be simply wonderful with your youngsters, and more than willing to pose for some pictures in the process too.
The street hockey clinic is free of charge. It will end with a scrimmage, and every girl will go home with her very own stick and ball, and a ticket voucher to a Lightning hockey game. Equipment will be provided.
The Lightning will continue its girls’ hockey celebration with a full-day event on Saturday Aug. 17 at the RDV Ice Den in Orlando. Accursi and Souliotis will also be present for Saturday’s activities. More information on the events can be found here.