Joey Daccord can’t help but smile when he thinks about his draft position.
Daccord, a goaltender who has put the Arizona State University hockey program on the map, was selected in the seventh round, 199th overall, in the 2015 NHL draft by the Ottawa Senators.
You know who was also selected 199th? New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, that’s who.
"Growing up in New England, Tom Brady is my favourite athlete of all-time," Daccord says. "He was chosen No. 199 by the Patriots (in 2000).
"All my buddies were telling me, if you weren’t going to go first overall, the second best place to go would be No. 199. I totally agree."
Three years after the Senators made him pick No. 199, Daccord, 22, still says the coolest part of being drafted was going in the same slot as Brady.
Judging by Daccord’s play for the ASU Sun Devils this season, there might be some magic left in that 199-draft position. To say that Daccord has exploded onto the radar of professional hockey scouts would be an understatement.
Recently named as ASU’s co-nominee for the Hobey Baker Award (along with Arizona-born forward Johnny Walker, an Auston Matthews pal), Daccord is the main reason ASU has surged onto Division I rankings this season (currently 12th on the Pairwise list) in just the third year of ASU hockey at the Division I level.
Like a throwback to the 1950s when teams dressed one goalie, Daccord IS the Sun Devils goaltending story. His record (16-9-1) mirrors the program’s record, 16-9-1 because Daccord plays every game.
He leads the nation in minutes played, (1,554), shots against (1,193) and shutouts (6), thriving on the constant work. His goals-against average is 2.24 and save percentage .930.
"The more you play, the easier it is to feel comfortable and feel you can play your game," says Daccord, six-foot-three and 205 pounds, in his junior year of college. "That was a challenge my first year, consistency was an issue."
Daccord has led the team to wins over Penn State, Boston College (a two-game sweep) and Harvard this season. He ranks the Penn State win as perhaps the biggest team victory, while shutting out BC on 32 saves was a sweet personal triumph for the native of North Andover, Mass.
"Penn State is a team we’ve played every year since I’ve been here and they’ve pumped us every time," Daccord says. "They’ve been a top-five, top-10 team."
In the first meeting against Penn State, ASU let a third-period lead slip away. The next night, ASU won in overtime, 4-3. On the Jan. 4-5 weekend, the Sun Devils beat Boston College 5-2 and 2-0 – to this point, the greatest moment of Daccord’s college career.
"Growing up I was a fan of Cory Schneider, I wore his number, I wanted to follow the same path he did, I wanted to go to Boston College like he did," Daccord says. "To be able to beat them, twice, and shut them out – my childhood dream school – was pretty special."
There’s a reason Daccord is close to Schneider, the New Jersey Devils goalie who hails from Marblehead, Mass. Schneider’s long-time goalie and development coach is Daccord’s father, Brian Daccord. The senior Daccord is a Toronto Maple Leafs goalie consultant and runs the Stop It Goaltending (SIG) school in Boston. Daccord has coached Schneider since his early teens.
Named Joel at birth but nicknamed Joey, Daccord also trains with his father, who has been his coach from an early age. A Montreal native, Brian Daccord was a pro goaltender in Switzerland, where he met his future wife, Daniela. That helps explain why Joey has three citizenships, U.S., Canadian and Swiss, and why the young man can speak German and Swiss-German.
"When my mom first moved over here, I was the only one she could really talk to in German," Daccord says. "She would talk to me in English and German."
Having a dad as a goalie coach could be a nightmare scenario in some families, but Daccord says he thinks a lot like his father and shares a similar easy-going disposition.
"He knew when to push me and when to take his foot off the gas and let me be a kid and do other things," Daccord says.
Doing "other things" helped Daccord become a superior athlete and captain of three teams in his senior year of high school – hockey, tennis and soccer. Several Division III schools were interested in him as a soccer forward.
Arizona State, however, had designs on this Cushing Academy product as their franchise goalie for an upstart Division I hockey program in the desert.
ASU head coach Greg Powers says Daccord was one of the first players to commit to the Sun Devils.
"He’s incredible," says Powers, who also has a goaltending background.
"He knew he was going to get the net right way and see a lot of pucks, the first two years especially."
According to Powers, Daccord already had all the physical attributes and technical training of a top-flight goalie. All he needed was to develop the mental side of his game, with experience.
"This year, Joey has put everything together," Powers says. "He’s mentally tough. He is a leader, a guy players look up to, especially the freshmen. Most importantly, to match his personality, he has fun every day, he’s loose – and that approach and attitude has resonated throughout our entire group."
Powers says he encourages Daccord to display his personality on the ice.
"That’s when he’s at his best," Powers says.
Along with a strong technical game, great crease mobility and reflexes, Daccord handles the puck as well as any goalie in the game. That will warm the hearts of Senators fans who have watched numerous goaltenders in Ottawa flub the puck.
Daccord has an assist this season and just missed scoring when his shot attempt missed an empty net against BC.
THIS close to a goalie goal! pic.twitter.com/bmMC3vFrLE
— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) January 6, 2019
"I know there are some great goalies in the NHL who can play the puck, but I put Joey Daccord with anybody in the world as far as his ability to play the puck," Powers says. "He’s that good."
Daccord says he has taken some elements from Schneider, especially his "intellectual game," he says.
"Corey has an understanding of the game, and the grind," Daccord says.
Daccord is also close to Senators backup goaltender Mike Condon (out most of the season with a lower-body injury) and trains with him in Boston during the summer.
Daccord could join his goaltending mentors in the pros as early as next season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported this week there would be a lot of interest in Daccord if he decides to leave school. The Senators would have a 30-day window in which to sign him, otherwise he becomes a free agent.
For his part, Daccord says he is focused on helping ASU qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Pro declarations can wait. ASU has eight games left in its schedule.
"It’s hard, especially as a kid because you hear all the noise, but for me personally I’m just trying to focus on our next game and our team going forward," Daccord says.
Powers has a lot of returning players next season, and would love nothing more than to have Daccord back to play his senior season. But he won’t put pressure on his standout goalie.
"Would it shock me if he came back? No," Powers says. "Would it shock me if he left? No. He’s ready from a hockey standpoint. No matter what he decides I’m going to support him."
The Sun Devils have a break this weekend and visit Daccord’s home turf of Boston University Jan. 25 and 26.