After a narrow scoring miss, UND goalie Zach Driscoll gets his highlight with a robbing save in a shutout
Driscoll finished with 23 saves in a shutout, including a first-period diving rob of Colorado College's Logan Will.
GRAND FORKS – On Friday night, UND goalie Zach Driscoll was robbed of a rare goal when his shot the full length of the ice at an empty net veered inches wide at the last moment in its chance to become the program’s first goalie goal.
On Saturday night, Driscoll did the robbing in the Fighting Hawks’ 4-0 win over Colorado College at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
With nine minutes left in a scoreless first period, the Tigers were lurking to strike first on UND.
Colorado College forward Tommy Middleton collected an awkward rebound with space in tight on Driscoll, who had to slide out of the crease to his right to make an initial save.
The rebound bounced directly to the slot to Colorado College’s Logan Will, who appeared to have a wide open net.
Instead, Driscoll dove back into his crease and outstretched his glove to rob Will.
“I would rather have a defensive effort like that, rather than any sort of empty-net goal for myself, that’s for sure,” Driscoll said.
The save was the highlight of a 23-save shutout for Driscoll, who’s allowed just three even-strength goals in his last seven games – solidifying his place back as the UND starter in net.
Now you're just showing off, Driz. #UNDproud | #LGH pic.twitter.com/p2bc4s08Xa— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) February 13, 2022
“I’m going to have to go back and watch it; I kind of blacked out as to how that play developed,” Driscoll said of his first-period save. “That’s the never-give-up mentality. You always go for the save and that’s why you do it. You compete for every puck in practice and that’s our mentality as goalies.”
Driscoll hoped that save sparked his bench.
“Hopefully the guys on the bench see that and they rally around it,” Driscoll said. “We were able to get one right after. They bail me out throughout the year, so it was nice to have that one.”
UND coach Brad Berry noticed the 20 blocked shots his team provided in front of Driscoll.
“Guys are battling for him,” Berry said. “Guys are selling out to not give up any five-on-five goals.
“What I notice in Zach is his short-term vision and focus. He’s not getting ahead of a play. He’s in control. He’s battling every puck, whether he’s standing up or sliding across.”
In January, UND backup goalie Jakob Hellsten started four games in a five-game stretch, making his case to steal the starting job.
Driscoll’s play of late indicates he’s back in the driver’s seat of the starting job the rest of the way.
During UND's three-week homestand against St. Cloud State, Omaha and Colorado College, Driscoll posted a .952 save percentage.
“He’s been phenomenal,” UND’s Connor Ford said. “Since he earned his job back, since then he’s clear he doesn’t want to give it up again. He’s got a new motivation coming into that final stretch. That’s what we need. We need a hot goaltender down the stretch and in the playoffs. Thank goodness right now we’ve got one.”
Berry liked what he saw of Driscoll while he waited for another turn during Hellsten’s starting stretch.
“He wasn’t moaning or being a bad teammate,” Berry said. “He wants to take the net. He’s a fifth-year guy and that’s a big deal.”
To start the year, Driscoll didn’t like how he was playing.
“(Hellsten) is an unbelievable goalie and kid, and we push each other in practice,” Driscoll said. “I wasn’t down and out. I haven’t been down in the dumps. I keep my nose down, waiting to get the opportunity and run with it.”
The shutout was Driscoll’s 12th of his career. He had one at St. Cloud State, nine at Bemidji State and now two at UND.
After the game, Driscoll said he dedicated the shutout to his dad, Dave, and sister, Courtney. Both were celebrating birthdays Saturday while watching the game in Mississippi.
“He stepped up this weekend,” UND defenseman Brent Johnson said. “He’s one of the older guys and we need leaders like that on this team. He’s a great teammate. He played big, and we needed him.”