BRIGHTON, Mass. – It must have been a relatively minor lower body ailment for fourth-line center candidate Noel Acciari as he returned to the training camp ice for regular practice on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
Acciari had hobbled off the ice in the third period of Wednesday night’ s preseason loss to the Red Wings with what appeared to be a right leg injury and the Providence College alum wasn’t on the ice the following day for training camp practice.
But Acciari tested things out with the young players after Friday’s training camp sessions, and then was back in the mix for the Black and Gold full force on Saturday.
That’s good news for the 24-year-old Acciari, who was his usual hard-hitting and energetic self while centering Justin Hickman and Anton Blidh in the loss to the Red Wings.
“I feel good. Ready to go again,” said Acciari. “I wish we could have done a little more out there. It was my first game back out there for a while, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”
Acciari is referencing playing with the puck, and being a little more offensive-minded, as the areas where he wants to improve this season after not showing much prowess in the offensive zone last season.
Acciari was a tough customer and unafraid to throw his body at even the biggest and strongest opponents in his blue-collar 19-game stint in Boston last season, but he also managed just a single assist along with a minus-4 rating.
So, that’s someplace where he feels he can show a bit more after posting seven goals and 19 points in a half-season for Providence last year.
“Just coming off last year, I was in a more defensive mentality. Now this year with a couple of games under my belt, I have a little more confidence to produce more offensively like I know that I can,” said Acciari. “I think the defensive part of the game and the checking is more my strong suit, but I know I can contribute offensively. As I get more comfortable around the team, I know I can help out producing points, and stuff like that.”
Staying healthy and showing some offensive “stuff” could help Acciari in his battle for an NHL roster spot out of camp where Riley Nash, Dominic Moore (who was pulled from Friday night's lineup vs. Detroit with a minor physical ailment) and Austin Czarnik among others are vying for potential fourth-line center spots.