Not since his high school playing days has Zachary Driscoll been pelted with so much rubber.
The Apple Valley, Minn., product turned aside 48 shots in a Penticton Vees 6-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena on Nov. 1. He then turned aside all 27 shots in a 3-0 win over the Merritt Centennials at the South Okanagan Events Centre Oct. 30. Driscoll’s 75-save effort in two games earned him BCHL Player of the Week honours for the week ending Nov. 1.
“It’s awesome, but that weekend was definitely more of a team weekend going 3-0 on a tough three games in 2.5 days,” said Driscoll, who helped the Vees extend their winning streak to 18 games (18-1-0). “Definitely more happy about keeping the streak going than that personal stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said Driscoll was the difference in Trail.
“In the second and the beginning of the third period he definitely stole the game for us,” said Harbinson. “We were pretty gassed obviously playing three games in 2.5 days and with all the injuries that we had. We had a few other guys playing through injuries.”
Harbinson also credited the play of Driscoll’s teammates for how they played in front of him.
“They played hard away from the puck. It has always been a mandate here to make sure we’re giving support to our goaltenders,” he said.
“It didn’t honestly feel like that many shots until you look up at the end there,” said Driscoll, who is 6-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and .946 save percentage for Canada’s best junior A team. “We played basically four defenceman all weekend. For those guys to still be kicking in the third game is ridiculous.”
With the action mostly five-on-five, Driscoll said that made for easier playing.
“Our defenceman did a great job keeping everything to the outside,” he said. “Rebounds were cleared to the corner. It wasn’t too crazy of a game.”
The Vees were led offensively by Demico Hannoun, who netted a hat-trick, his first ending up as the game winner, while Owen Sillinger scored twice and Easton Brodzinski added the other.
Vees newcomer Nicholas Jones was among six players who received honourable mention. He collected eight points in three games. Five points, all assists, came in an 8-4 win in Merritt.
“He’s another player that plays extremely hard both ways,” said Harbinson. “A good team guy. We’re very fortunate to have been able to acquire him.”
“His first three games here he was a stud. That’s not too shabby welcome to the league,” said Driscoll. “He’s a really skilled player. He competes hard.”
Driscoll added that Jones scored goals in practice that made him do a double-take.
“He’s a really good competitor.”
The Vees performance at Cominco Arena was described by Harbinson as a battle of survival as they were without defenceman Gabe Bast and Dante Fabbro with lower body injuries and Griffin Mendel playing for Team Canada White in the World U17 Hockey Challenge. The Vees had some help with affiliate players Ryan Morrell and Daniel Stone. Morrell collected an assist on Owen Sillinger’s goal to open the scoring against Trail.
“The two affiliate players that came in, they battled hard to play at our level, give us a chance,” said Harbinson. “For us with all the injuries and everything else, and playing the amount of hockey we have lately … our guys found a way to get that next win.”
Vees notes: Defenceman Seamus Donohue (96) was placed on the long-term injury reserve Tuesday, after being injured Sunday. Defenceman Domenic Masellis (97) was acquired from the Langley Rivermen for future considerations.
Masellis, 18, is in his third BCHL season splitting time between Langley and Surrey with more than 100 career games. The Burnaby product is a big body at six-foot-three and 225 pounds.
Masellis will arrive in Penticton Wednesday and make his debut Saturday against Nanaimo.