In the midst of ASU hockey‘s best season ever, junior goaltender Joey Daccord is having an outstanding year himself becoming the catalyst for ASU’s success.
On a Friday night in the country’s second-oldest arena still used in NCAA Division I hockey, the clock dwindled down. The buzzer sounded and the scoreboard was illuminated with a four and a zero in favor of Arizona State.
Joey Daccord had just secured his fourth shutout of the season. The North Andover, Mass. product put on a remarkable performance as he denied all 45 shots that reached his crease from the Princeton Tigers.
“I think you just kind of get into a place where you’re not even thinking,” Daccord explained. “You’re just playing and having fun.”
That place is the mental zone for Daccord. He is no stranger to facing piles of shots throughout a single game. And when it happens, the 22-year-old locks in that much more.
The ASU goalie has had eight games with at least 30-plus saves this season. Four of those contests have concluded in him collecting 40-plus saves.
“I think even though sometimes we might give up a lot of shots, we’re really keeping the chances down this year and that’s really the biggest difference,” Daccord said. “I don’t think it’s anything crazy different with me or my game.”
Interestingly enough, it can be more difficult for a goaltender to get locked in when less shots are sent on net by the opponent. Daccord’s backup in freshman Evan DeBrouwer attested to that notion.
“You’re getting bombarded with shots and you’re just in the game the whole time,” DeBrouwer said. “It’s the games that when you get 15 to 20 shots that are the hardest ones because you’re standing there and it’s hard to stay focused for a long time between shots.”
Daccord admits his most challenging outings have been those games with less than 20 shots because it’s harder for him to find that zone. But he’s still racking up wins either way.
The junior is on pace for his best collegiate season yet. The Sun Devils are 12-6 and Daccord has started every single one of those 18 games.
“For me personally, I love knowing that I’m going every game and hopefully get into a grove and get into a rhythm and just feel like I’m in my zone 24/7,” Daccord said.
His 12 wins are currently the most in NCAA D-I hockey. That total is more than his freshman and sophomore years combined.
“He’s just taken such a big step,” head coach Greg Powers said. “He’s found a way to be consistently really good.”
Daccord’s success didn’t come right away, however. He struggled with the transition to college hockey initially.
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“My freshman year I put a lot of pressure on myself and I stressed myself out,” Daccord admitted. “The last two years I’ve tried to kind of be a little bit looser and more fun and joke around with guys while staying focused.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound goalie has been as excited as anyone about the team’s successful start this season. He can usually be seen laughing it up with his teammates, and he’s always meeting them halfway to the ASU bench after a score to celebrate before the next drop of the puck.
“We’ve been so much better this year,” Daccord said. “It’s really been a team effort to improve the penalty kill and improve every facet of our game really and I think that’s showing in our record.”
For the ASU defensemen, it’s a really big breath of fresh air to have a reliable goaltender in Daccord to be the last line of defense.
“Very thankful we have him back there,” co-captain and junior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk said. “One of the best goalies in the country, and especially being a defenseman, it’s nice because if you make a mistake and let a guy by you that there’s a good chance he’s stopping it.”
The younger guys on the team are given the opportunity to play more relaxed with Daccord in net as well. ASU’s defensive core contains six underclassmen, three of them being just freshmen.
“Coming into this league as a young guy can be really scary with a lot to learn,” Pasichnuk explained. “I think it really takes the weight off their shoulders and me as well.”
Pasichnuk acknowledges knowing Daccord has his back no matter what has improved his confidence. Strong goalie play has allowed him as a defenseman to jump in on the offensive attack more, and Pashichnuk currently has the second-most points on the team.
“Joey’s our best player,” Powers said. “Him and Brinson are our two best players and they’re both playing like it. He’s a stud back there for us.”
Along with being the last line of defense, Daccord has strongly contributed to the Sun Devils’ offense with his ability to play the puck. The junior typically begins the breakout with strong reads and crisp passing.
“He’s world-class at moving the puck and playing the puck in every way,” Powers stated. “And I’m not gonna bottle that up. If you have a world-class talent, you want to let him showcase it and perfect it and polish it up so when he goes to the next level, he’s confident moving the puck.”
The communication between Daccord and the defensemen has become effortless due to chemistry that has developed through playing together for countless hours. They say it’s quite simple, using three calls: ‘rim the puck’, ‘backhand’ or ‘forehand’.
“We just say one of those and he’s really good with it,” Pasichnuk said. “He’ll put it right where you want it. It’s really nice to have honestly like a sixth player out there with how good he plays the puck.”
Daccord actually tallied an assist back on Oct. 6 against Alaska Fairbanks. He has three total in his collegiate career.
“There’s a lot of coaches out there that I think would try to temper his puck-playing ability a little bit, and I don’t,” Powers said. “I don’t at all. I want him to showcase how good he is with it. It’s a weapon.”
In ASU’s road series against Princeton, the two match-ups were broadcasted on ESPN+. One of the commentators made a comparison of Daccord to legendary New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on his exceptional skill to play the play the puck.
Although Daccord is humbled by comparison, he knows he still has a long way to go before he reaches the platform of a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
But the Ottawa Senators draft pick continues to make waves in the college hockey world and his performance is a major catalyst to ASU’s early success so far.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.