Every goalie remembers their first NHL victory. Not every goalie has a great story to go with it.
Joey Daccord does.
Daccord was preparing Sunday night for an evening on the Ottawa Senators’ bench, ready to be Matt Murray’s backup for a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Daccord was probably wishing he’d had a better outing in Edmonton two nights earlier. 10 seconds into the game, on the very first shot he faced Friday night, Daccord allowed a weak goal from a bad angle, setting the tone for a 6-2 Senators loss.
A better performance Friday might have set him up for another start in the game Sunday, the kind of matchup a rookie dreams about: A start at home against your team’s arch rival. Instead, Daccord was schedule to remain the understudy, waiting for his next chance.
He didn’t have to wait long.
“A couple of minutes before warmups, Mur (Matt Murray) kinda came back to the locker room and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I can play. I’m gonna try in warmups,’” said Daccord. “Then a couple of minutes into warmups, I just was skating by the bench and one of the trainers (pointed at me) and I was like, ‘All right let’s do it!’
“It’s a pretty funny feeling. You get a split second of uncertainty and then it’s like ‘I’m gonna win tonight. We’re gonna win tonight.’ I just kinda had a feeling pretty early on once I found out I was playing.”
The surprise start didn’t begin particularly well. On the game’s first shift, Toronto forward William Nylander crashed the net with the puck, colliding hard with Daccord. For a brief moment, it looked like the Sens might have to go to consider a third goaltending option in Kevin Mandolese.
“I came in the room after the first period,” Daccord said. “I looked at Mando and I asked, ‘How nervous were you when, on the first shift, I got smoked into the net?’ And he was like, ‘No, no, I knew you were fine’. That would have been crazy if that happened.
“I remember I stood up (after the collision) and I looked at the ref and said, ‘No better way to get into it.’ It was good. Happy I made the first save this time (laughing).”
With very little notice, Daccord went out and made 33 saves on 36 shots to earn his first NHL win; a 4-3 victory over Toronto, the best team in the North Division.
“What a great feeling,” said Daccord in his post Game Zoom availability. “The effort the guys gave tonight was outstanding. Yeah. Just a really special moment. I hope my family and friends were watching because they probably didn’t know I was playing. To do it against such a good team like the Leafs too. And do it at home…incredible.”
Daccord was particularly emotional in his interview with Sportsnet.
"I don't even have words right now. I just want to thank my family for everything they've done for me – It's pretty special."
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 15, 2021
For the Senators amateur scouting staff, Daccord looks like another diamond in the rough. The club drafted him in the 7th round in 2015, long after they chosen first rounders like Thomas Chabot and Colin White. Daccord then attended Arizona State University where he became well known for his outstanding puck skill, handling the puck as well as any goalie who’s ever played the game.
He wouldn’t mind getting on the scoresheet some day.
“It’s a goalie’s dream to score. If the opportunity presents itself and it’s a perfect situation for it, I’m not afraid to try it. I tried a couple of times in college. I missed by an inch or two against Boston College in my junior year.”
THIS close to a goalie goal! 👀 pic.twitter.com/bmMC3vFrLE
— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) January 6, 2019
For now, Daccord is just happy to be in the NHL and thrilled to have his first victory with a fun story to go with it.
“It’s not how you draw it up but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”