Noel Acciari, people from Woonsocket to Westerly will tell you, has developed into one of Rhode Island’s all-time best sports stories.
The Johnston native and son of Michael and Edna Acciari was a superstar at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick where he led the Hawks to the state championship in his freshman year.
From Hendricken he went on to captain Kent School and then to Providence College – just a few miles form his home in Johnston – and closed out a highly-successful career by helping lead the Friars to the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s National Ice Hockey Championship.
Acciari was then drafted by the Boston Bruins, a team he rooted for and admired as a youngster and as he did with the Hawks and Friars, helped the B’s reach the Stanley Cup finals only to have their NHL championship dream fall short in Game 7 vs. the St. Louis Blues.
However, for his outstanding play at three different levels of hockey, Acciari will receive the 2019 Rhode Island Native-Born Achievement Award at the Rhode Island Reds Society’s 19th Reunion on Aug. 4 at Goddard State Memorial Park carousel building in Warwick.
“Noel Acciari is the perfect player to receive this award,” offered Sylvester “Buster” Clegg, the tireless and ageless president of the Reds Heritage Society. “He’s the epitome of a home grown ice hockey player.”
Clegg added, “We’re highly honored to present Noel this year’s award” and announced that Acciari will attend the Aug. 4 reunion to accept the prestigious honor.
Perhaps that’s why Society’s 19th such reunion could have a record-setting crowd and possibly a sellout.
“Think about this,” Richard J. DelFino III, a former Johnston Town Councilman who is a Hendricken and PC graduate and who presented the Bruins forward with an award after the Friars captured the NCAA title, said. “This state hasn’t had any better sports success story in years like the one Noel has written. I am personally thrilled for Noel and his family.”
From Hendricken, Acciari went to captain the Kent School hockey team before playing three seasons at PC and leading the Friars to the 2015 national title.
Ironically, PC staked claim to the coveted crown at TD Garden and less than a year later Acciari was back in Boston skating in that famed arena but this time in a Bruins uniform. He made his NHL debut against ht Calgary Flames.
Acciari has played a valuable role for the B’s as a tough stalwart on the offensive checking line. In that role this season, he played in 72 games and dished out 233 hits for an average of 3.1 per game – second highest for the Bruins and 18th highest in the entire NHL.
Perhaps Acciari’s hockey heart, as someone suggested, shined brighter than ever simply because he played hurt for the Bruins and took his regular shift despite having a broken sternum and injured foot during the entire 7-game Stanley Cup finals.
The Society’s annual reunion is one of the state’s two most prestigious hockey happenings, the other being the Sept. 6 Induction-Enshrinement of the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln.
Tickets for the Reds Heritage Society Reunion are on sale at $40 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-12. The event features food, numerous award presentations, many former Reds and NHL stars and is open to the public. For reservations please call Mal Goldenberg at (401) 864-6191.