TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - From the snow to the sun to the show, goalie Joey Daccord’s hockey life just keeps on getting better.
“It means the world to me,” said Daccord. “I have been working my whole life to get here.”
Daccord, who led Arizona State University into the NCAA Tournament before losing to Quinnipiac Saturday in the regional semifinals, returned home to Tempe Sunday, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators Monday and will make his NHL debut in net for Sens Thursday night in Buffalo.
“It’s crazy yesterday how many people reached out to me,” said Daccord while standing in front of his new NHL locker. “And how many people it takes to have one dream come true. I was waiting to see if it was all going to come together and then an hour and a half later I was on a plane here. It’s been a crazy 24 hours for sure.”
Daccord, 22, leaves behind a legacy in Tempe – part of a group that lit the torch of a fledgling Division I hockey program and carried it all the way to ASU's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Daccord becomes the first ASU hockey player to even sign an NHL contract.
“Yesterday was a pretty special day for myself and my family,” said Daccord. “I really just want to thank Arizona State University and everything they’ve done for me and Coach (Greg) Powers and the Ottawa Senators for giving me this amazing opportunity.”
There’s an old saying that life comes at you pretty fast and Daccord certainly received a dose of that over the past five days – having to say quick and emotional goodbyes to his Sun Devil teammates before flying to meet his teammates in Ottawa.
“It definitely made it challenging because I love those guys," said Daccord. “Those guys will be my brothers for life. It was tough but at the end of the day I just tried to do what was best for myself and they were all incredibly happy for me.”
Daccord finally joins the NHL team that first drafted him back in 2015 – 199th overall – a number not lost on the North Andover, Massachusetts native and life-long New England Patriots fan.
“I was taken the same overall pick has Tom Brady – 199,” said a smiling Daccord. “So I knew I had a pretty good future after that.”
The Senators had 30 days to sign Daccord after he declared his decision to turn pro before they’d lose his rights and he’d become an NHL free agent. The Sens were quick to move and Daccord was quick to sign – the team that believed in him four years ago was the team he wanted to play for.
“That was always the goal,” said Daccord. “It was what I was working for, for the last four years ever since I was picked. This is where I wanted to be so to have that happen and it all come to fruition is pretty incredible.”
Daccord will forever be a part of Sun Devil hockey history.
"When I committed to Arizona State, they had zero games played in Division I hockey," says Daccord. "I put all my trust in Coach Powers, hoping it would work. I guess it did."
Part of that trust was born with a big help from Mother Nature – as Daccord recalled this week, when Powers first called him to gauge his interest in ASU, it was snowing in Massachusetts.
That’s was his first selling point, said a laughing Daccord this week.
It paid off. Daccord in 2019 was named among one of the five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, annually awarded to the most outstanding goaltender in college hockey. Daccord is also a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, in recognition of the nation's top player. He leaves Arizona State having set career highs in games (34), wins (21), goals-against-average (2.36), save percentage (.926) and shutouts (seven) in 2018-19.
And now – he’s heading back east. ASU’s loss is not only Ottawa’s gain – it’s also Daniela Daccord’s gain. Daniela is Joey’s mom.
“I can tell you my mom was not too thrilled when I decided to go to Arizona State,” said Joey. “Not that it wasn’t an incredible opportunity for me and she wasn’t happy - but she just wanted me a little closer to home. So now she’s excited.”