Zach Driscoll credits UND's defenders as his save percentage rises
The Fighting Hawks netminder has won the NCHC's goalie of the week honor three times in a row.
GRAND FORKS — In a little more than a week, ballots will be distributed to coaches and media members to vote on National Collegiate Hockey Conference awards.
Voters will be encouraged to look at conference stats, not overall, so the comparisons are fair.
One UND player who has slowly worked his way into contention for awards is goaltender Zach Driscoll.
On Monday, Driscoll became the third player in NCHC history to win goalie of the week in three consecutive weeks. The others to do that: UND's Cam Johnson in 2015-16 and Miami's Ludvig Persson last season in the NCHC Pod.
Driscoll now has a .918 save percentage in league play, which is just two points behind league-leader Matt Vernon of Colorado College and one back of Ryan Fanti of Minnesota Duluth.
Driscoll's 2.14 goals-against average leads the NCHC.
"I feel like there's definitely a confidence factor in that," he said. "You know you're playing well. Sometimes it's been a you-have-to-be-lucky-to-be-good type of thing. . . a couple posts here and there. But you work for those bounces. You go in with the mindset that it's going to be tough for them to score on me tonight and it's kind of how I approached these last few games."
Driscoll was quick to credit the play of his defenders at Wednesday's press conference.
"Did you see how many shots we blocked on Saturday?" Driscoll asked. "Guys are buying in. They're sacrificing. They know that we have an already banged up lineup. (Tyler) Kleven blocked eight shots on Saturday. (Ethan) Frisch is blocking shots. (Jake) Schmaltz is blocking shots with his hand. Guys are selling out. That's just the sign of a team that's willing to do whatever it takes to win games. Obviously, those are teams that keep playing at the end of the year."
Driscoll said he appreciates the way his forwards and defensemen take away shooting lanes.
"It makes my job a lot easier," Driscoll said. "I'm probably the most excited guy on the ice when I see someone make a shot block like that. I always make sure to go back to the bench and tell them, 'Hey, nice block, that was huge.'"
Driscoll said one particular sequence stands. Earlier this month against Colorado College, Connor Ford and Frisch both stepped in front of power-play one-timers with UND leading 4-0 in the third period.
"When you're up 4-0, you don't have to block a shot," Driscoll said. "But to do it for the team and sell out like that, that's the kind of group we have here. It's a key to success."