Isaiah Saville tends to set high expectations for himself and his team.
Entering a key stretch in the development of his career as a hockey goalie, that was particularly true going into this season.
“Coming into this season, personally I wanted to establish myself as definitely a top-tier goaltender in the league and in the world as well,” said Saville, the United States Hockey League’s top goalie statistically with his play for the Tri-City Storm. “Knowing in the back of my mind that this year’s a huge year as my first year of draft eligibility and that the ultimate goal for me personally is to get drafted by a team.
“And, I would say team-wise the expectations were nothing less than what we’re doing right now.”
With Saville leading the way, the Storm is one of two teams that has clinched a USHL playoff berth, is in first place in the Western Conference and sports the best record in the entire USHL at 36-10-2-1.
“We came into the year expecting ourselves to be a top contender and a team that can be one or two in the league,” Saville said. “We’re showing we have what it takes so far.”
Saville is doing the same in the pursuit of his personal goals.
All the 18-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska has done in the 2018-19 season is play for the U.S. Junior Select Team in the Wotld Junior A Challenge, where he posted a shutout in the gold-medal game victory, lead the USHL in goals against average so far in his rookie season as well as land a spot in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Saville earned USHL Goaltender of the Week awards twice in October and again in November. He leads the league in goals against average (1.99) and save percentage (.925), is tied for second in shutouts (four) and ranks sixth in wins (19).
“Isaiah has been a steady presence in net for us,” coach Anthony Noreen said, according to a story on the Storm website.
After starting out in Alaska High School hockey, Saville moved to the Colorado Thunderbirds as a 16U Elite player, then on to the North American Hockey League last season where he was Midwest Division Goaltender of the Year for the Minnesota Magicians.
Making the most of his athleticism and continuing to work on his skating has paid off for Saville.
“I pride myself a lot on my skating,” Saville said. “I work with my goalie coach back home all the time on my skating.
“I’ve learned that if you want to be an elite goalie anywhere, you have to make sure you’re skating on an elite level. … I think I’m one of the best skaters in the league. I work on that a ton.”
Saville has kept producing as he has moved on to greater challenges. He put up good numbers at the US-Select 15s, 16s and 17s Festivals in the summers of 2015 through 2017.
The World Junior A Challenge follows early international opportunities in the Five Nations Cup two years ago and the Hlinka Cup last season.
Saville is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he plans to report in the fall.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.