Eastview poses for a team picture after winning the Schwan Cup Silver Division championship. Photo by Katherine Matthews
One shot allowed. One goal against.
Not the sort of start a goaltender envisions when mentally preparing for a game. But that’s what Eastview junior Zach Driscoll was contemplating on Saturday in the championship of the Schwan Cup Silver Division tournament at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Centennial’s Connor Lovick drilled a shot past Driscoll, widely regarded as one of the state’s top handful of goaltenders, just 27 seconds into the opening shift.
“Today was a battle mentally,” Driscoll said. “Anytime you give up a goal on the first shot on goal, that’s not what you want. So you really have to put it behind you and battle on from there.”
Driscoll was flawless the rest of the way in a 3-1 victory that gave the Lightning their second holiday tournament title in as many seasons. Eastview won the Class AA division of the Kiwanis Holiday Tournament in Rochester last year.
“Like I said in (the locker room), this Christmas thing is pretty easy isn’t it?” Eastview coach Drey Bradley said. “No, it’s not easy. But it’s fun.”
Teams typically have more fun when the guy in goal is capable of winning games all by himself. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, as Driscoll was sharp in making 21 saves, but he got a lot of help from a hard-hitting defensive corps and group of forwards committed to backchecking with vigor.
“They made it real easy,” Driscoll said about his teammates. “They kept everybody to the outside, on shots from the point they were moving bodies. It wasn’t too hard.”
Maybe coach was right. Maybe this Christmas thing is easy.
Cole McDevitt, a light-scoring forward described as a grinder by his teammates, certainly got into the holiday spirit. He scored with less than one second left in the first period to tie it at 1 then fired home the clincher with 1:35 left in the third.
Driscoll, meanwhile, played his usual calm and controlled game. He allowed just one goal in each of the three tournament games (the Lightning also beat Andover 4-1 and Roseville 2-1) while lowering his goals-against average to 2.08 and raising his save percentage to .923.
“He’s one of the toughest goalies we’ve seen this year, no doubt about it,” Centennial coach Ritch Menne said. “He’s the real deal. We thought we had him a couple of times, but we just couldn’t get it behind him. What can you do?”
-- Loren Nelson