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Coming off best professional season yet, North Andover’s Daccord ready for hockey | Local Sports

North Andover’s Joey Daccord decided to get away following the 2021-22 National Hockey League season.

Not that he needed to escape hockey. The former North Andover High star was coming off his best professional season yet, in his first campaign with the Seattle Kraken organization.

But a vacation always helps.

“I went on a trip to Europe for a couple weeks to get away from everything and clear my head,” said Daccord. “I went to England, France, Italy and Switzerland, places I’ve never seen.

“You get used to traveling all season as a pro hockey player. So it’s a little weird to travel for relaxation. It was a nice mental reset after a long season. But at some point it clicks, and you’re ready to play hockey again.”

After last season’s stellar results, it’s no wonder Daccord is pumped for the coming winter.

After being selected by Seattle in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Daccord appeared in five NHL games for the Kraken, and was often called up for insurance. But much of his best work came in the American Hockey League.

Daccord excelled in 34 games for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, posting a 2.28 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He was named AHL Goalie of the Month following a dominant March.

“He gives the group a lot of confidence and guys love playing in front of him,” said Charlotte head coach Geordie Kinnear in a story on Charlottecheckers.com. “He brings a lot of swagger to the group.”

Daccord is currently back in North Andover working out with his father, goalie guru Brian Daccord at Stop-it Goaltending, and is planning to report for training camp around Labor Day.

“My first season (in the Seattle organization) was great,” he said. “I played a ton, which was exactly what I wanted. Going into last season, I wanted to get a lot of starts and play a lot of games, and I did that. It was really ideal.

“Whether I’m in Seattle or in the AHL to start the season, I’m excited to get the ball rolling again and start playing hockey.”

JOINING THE KRAKEN

Daccord kicked off his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators — who selected him in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft — after a stellar career at Arizona State. He appeared in nine games for the Senators from 2019-21.

Change came in a big way for Daccord almost exactly one year ago, when Seattle selected him with the sixth pick in the 2021 Expansion Draft.

“The expansion draft was a really unique experience,” said Daccord. “When you get drafted in the NHL Draft, it’s pure retirement. With the expansion draft, I was either going to be picked or I wasn’t, and I was. It was awesome, because I wanted the chance to play. But it was also nerve-wracking, because I was going to a new organization with new coaches and teammates.

“Being picked by the Kraken was great for my career. I was excited about it then and I’m excited now. Everything with the Kraken is top notch. We are very spoiled in that organization. I was on the bench for the inaugural game for the Kraken, and that was really special.”

FROM NHL TO AHL AND BACK AGAIN

Daccord appeared in five NHL games last season — positing a 4.50 GAA — and was frequently promoted to the Kraken for insurance or to the team’s taxi squad.

“It was pretty crazy,” he said. “It was very challenging, going up and down. I would play a few games in Charlotte, then get called up. But it was good for me to experience, and will make me a better hockey player.

“When I would get sat up or down with Ottawa, it was a two-hour drive (to AHL affiliate the Belleville Senators). I would just load a bag in my car and go. To go from Seattle to Charlotte (NC), it takes a whole weekend. I usually had a connector on my flight, plus there was the three-hour time change, which is tough.”

AHL STAR

Dacord excelled in Charlotte. He was especially dominant in March, when he posted a 6-1-0 record in seven starts, with a 1.55 goals-against average and .956 save percentage and earned AHL Goalie of the Month.

“It was great,” he said. “We had an awesome team. In the second half of the season, we really put it together. We were firing on all cylinders. We were in fifth place in January, and finished in first place. When you’re feeling in a groove, the puck looks like a beach ball, and that’s always a good feeling for a goalie.

“I had no idea I won Goalie of the Month. My goalie coach texted me. He said, ‘You have a .958 save percentage in March.’ I was like, ‘OK, that’ll work.’ We were winning, so I was just keeping my head down and playing.”

Daccord is now continuing to train, before reporting to Seattle for camp. The Kraken play their first preseason game on Sept. 26, hosting the Edmonton Oilers.

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet,” Daccord said. “I’m focused on training. I will report to training camp with a positive attitude and see what happens. I feel like, if I play my game to the best of my abilities, I’ll give myself a good chance, and that is all I can ask for.”

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