PHOTO BY MICHAEL HETZEL
With great speed and impeccable puck control, Buffalo Beauts forward Taylor Accursi can pull fans out of their seats. Now in her second season in the league, Accursi is helping set an example for first-year Beauts.
Accursi has played in seven of the Beauts nine games this 2018-19 season. With seven more regular season games to go, she feels that the Beauts have their sights set on finishing in the upper half of the NWHL standings by season's end. That quest continues on Saturday, when the Beauts host the Boston Pride at 1:30 p.m. ET at HarborCenter. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.
"I think we're headed in the right direction right now," Accursi said. "I think that as long as everybody just focuses on what they do well and what they do best, then everything will tie together. Ultimately we need to push each other to be better every day and every practice, and I think that's what we're doing."
The 2018-19 season has been somewhat of a different focus for Accursi. Last season the goals and points seemed to come in bunches. Accursi played in all 15 regular season games, and potted six goals and five assists for 11 points. The six goals were the second-most on the team behind Hayley Scamurra's seven. Accursi scored five of those goals within the first three games of her rookie season.
Through her seven games this current season she has scored a lone goal. While her personal numbers may be lower, Accursi is finding that her concentration on defensive responsibilities is creating more chances for others on the team.
"This year has been a lot different than last year," she explained. "I've really just focused on being able to create and generate opportunities for my linemates. Last year I definitely struggled in my defensive end. I definitely think about defensive play a lot more, and I feel that has allowed me to create those offensive opportunities."
That being said, Accursi knows that fans and teammates alike appreciate what she can do with a puck. Toe-drags, shooting from between her own legs, dipsy-doodling through a defender - she has done a bit of it all.
Asked whether her speed and stickhandling are something that her team counts on her to bring, or whether it just happens naturally, Accursi responded:
"I think it's a little bit of both. I like good energy. I have fun. I like when my teammates score, and I like what I'm able to bring to the team. So I guess it's a combination of the both of those. At the end of the day it's supposed to be fun, and everybody is so serious sometimes that you need to be able to bring that finesse and that fun attitude to it wherever you can because it is a long season once things are going your way. I think especially with our new coaching staff we've really locked in, and good things are going to come. That's what I try to bring."
Of Buffalo's remaining seven games, four of them are against the Metropolitan Riveters. The two teams have not played each other yet this season, and have not squared off with one another since the 2018 Isobel Cup Final in Newark. This is a fact that has not been missed by Accursi either.
"I'm personally really excited," she said. "I know last season we had a really good series against them. Ultimately it didn't turn out the way that we wanted it to, but this year we've got a different team, a different way of playing the game. It's going to be awesome. I know a former teammate and really good friend of mine plays for Metro right now - (Kristin) Lewicki - so it will be really exciting to be able to see her play, and see what she's got for them. But ultimately it's going to come down to us wanting to beat them because of last year. It'll be fun though. It'll be a good series."
Accursi and the Beauts are primed to welcome 2019 in full swing and are eager for their first games of the new year. We asked her if she had any New Year's resolutions that she could share. Focused on the game, she gave a very fitting response.
"One of them actually is just staying in shape and continuing to eat healthy. That's always one I try to strive for. Always important."