BOSTON - Noel Acciari is quite familiar with the history of the Boston Bruins. The 25-year-old grew up in Johnston, R.I., as a fan of the Black & Gold, with a special appreciation for the organization's rich history and tradition.
The way the team played, particularly during his youth, appealed to him greatly. As a teenager, Acciari watched as Boston surged to its first Stanley Cup title in 39 years in 2011 and drew inspiration from the passion and commitment with which that group played en route to hoisting hockey's holy grail.
"I think I was a senior in high school and just watching how the grit got them there and how they kept playing like there's no tomorrow," Acciari said. "I think that's the way I have to play every day. Play every game as if it was my last and just kind of focus on that."
It is that gritty, hard-hitting style that earned Acciari a spot on the Bruins roster and has endeared the hometown kid to Bruins fans over his first two seasons with the Black & Gold. After playing just 19 games in 2015-16, without a goal, the 5-foot-10, 208-pound winger registered two goals and three assists in 29 games last season, while collecting 80 hits to rank eighth on the Bruins.
His performance, especially over the season's final month - he added a goal in four postseason games - helped the restricted free agent garner a new two-year, one-way contract, worth an average annual value of $725,000, on Wednesday morning.
"I'm very excited," said Acciari, who notched his first career goal on March 28 against Nasvhille. "I just wanted to thank Donny [Sweeney] and Cam [Neely] and the Jacobs family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it for another two years and I'm excited about where this team is headed. So, I'm glad I can be a part of it."
Video: NSH@BOS: Acciari pots Nash's feed for first NHL goal
Despite his success towards the end of the 2016-17 season, it was an up-and-down campaign for Acciari, who split time between Providence and Boston and missed 15 games - and two more in the postseason - due to injuries while with the big club. Acciari, who had six goals and eight assists in 30 games with the P-Bruins, believes the time spent in his home state paid dividends upon his return up I-95.
"I think going down was a great help to just kind of let me know that when I was down there, just to continue to play my game," said Acciari. "And when I got the call back up, just do what got me to that point - not to be nervous, not to grip the stick a little too tight, and just play.
"Once I started doing that, relaxing a lot more and feeling a lot more comfortable with the guys, I think it made my game excel. The more comfortable I get with the team itself, the more I can produce and be a good player to help out in whatever I can."
Acciari became a valued member of the Bruins fourth line last season, teaming up with Dominic Moore and Riley Nash, and at times Sean Kuraly and Tim Schaller, to form a dependable trio for coach Bruce Cassidy and his staff. The heavy style that playing on the fourth line requires can, however, take a toll, as evidenced by the time he missed with various injuries.
But Acciari is not planning on altering his style of play anytime soon.
"I'm not going to change anything that helped me to get where I am right now, and that was hitting, being hard on the puck, forechecking - that part of my game is not going to change," said Acciari. "That will be with me for the rest of my career and I like to chip in with goals and points whenever I can. But, that part of my game is going to stay the same.
"I don't like to think about if I'm going to get hurt, or if this is going to hurt me, if this blocked shot is going to hurt me. I think when you're thinking too much when that happens, that's when you start to get hurt."
Video: FLA@BOS: Acciari beats Berra five-hole on a breakaway
Right now, all Acciari is thinking about is expanding his abilities ahead of training camp. He is back in the gym now, with a focus on his agility and footwork, as he tries to improve his skating game. Also on the offseason checklist for Acciari is enhancing his ability to possess the puck for longer stretches in the offensive zone.
"I just want to make sure that I can start how I ended last year with the confidence that I had and just make sure that I'm ready for any situation, whether it be penalty kill or kind of just be ready for anything," said Acciari.
"There's always something to work on, so I can find plenty in my game to make sure I can help the team out next year and the year after."