By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Before fans entered Schneider Arena to watch the Friars skate to a 4-1 win over Northeastern University, they were gifted with free bobbleheads of former Providence College men’s hockey player and current forward for the Boston Bruins Noel Acciari ’15. Captain of the NCAA National Championship winning team (a first for PC), Acciari is one of the few former Friars who have made a statement within the National Hockey League as a solid fourth-liner.
A Rhode Island native, Acciari has played in 150 games with the Bruins over the course of his four years with the team. Originally undrafted, the Bruins picked up Acciari at the end of his junior year just after PC ousted Boston University for the National Championship with a 4-3 win. Acciari left PC to begin his professional career and on June 8, 2015 he signed a two-year entry-level contract as a free agent. However, Acciari would not see the NHL until March of 2016 as the Bruins assigned him to the Providence Bruins to develop his game.
Acciari’s NHL debut took place on March 1, 2016 against the Calgary Flames. For the remainder of that season, he would go on to play 19 games with the Bruins, totaling a single assist and a -4 plus/minus rating.
In his second season with the Bruins (2016-2017), Acciari appeared in a total of 29 regular season games, racked up two goals and three assists for a total of five points, and had a +3 plus/minus rating. His first NHL goal was scored on March 28, 2017 against the Nashville Predators, just over a year after his NHL debut.
It was at the end of this season that the Bruins re-signed him with a two-year contract extension.
Acciari saw an increase of playing time over the course of his third season with the Bruins, totaling 60 games played. Over the course of 2017-2018, he scored 10 goals and notched a single assist during regular season play. And despite his -6 plus/minus rating, his presence was surely felt on the ice.
Acciari’s third season influx of goal-scoring caught his former college coach’s eye.
“He takes the puck to the net hard, stays on the rebound and scores. That’s Friar hockey,” PC men’s hockey Head Coach Nate Leaman commented on his former player in 2018.
Over the course of his first three seasons with the Bruins, and even going back to his days as a Friar, Acciari gained the reputation of being a hard hitter along the boards.
“He can turn the tide of a game with the physicality part…You have to match [teams] hit for hit…and the Kevan Millers, Charlie [McAvoy], Noel, Z [Zdeno Chara]…give us some of that counterpunching we need,” Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy once commented on Noel’s physical style of play.
Of the 50 games played so far this current NHL season, Acciari has played in 42 of them; the eight missed games were due to healthy scratches. Unfortunately, Acciari’s scratches stem from the fact that he is not producing as much as the Bruins’s coaching staff would like. In the 42 games he has played, he has only notched one goal and three assists and has a -9 plus/minus rating. Yet, despite being scratched from multiple games and his low numbers in terms of points he is posting, Cassidy acknowledges that Acciari’s line, which usually consists of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, has been playing great and “working hard” in both games and practices.
The start of 2019 marks the last year of Acciari’s contract with the Bruins before he will once again become a free agent up for grabs. While the Bruins have made no indication on whether or not he will be offered another extension, going forward Acciari will need to start producing more on the ice and adding a bit more consistency to his game.