For goaltender Isaiah Saville, the path back to success on the ice has been a long time coming. After an injury kept him out for most of the Silver Knights’ start to the season, he made his debut for the 2023-24 season on December 9 against the San Jose Barracuda.
Saville allowed just one goal on 32 shots in Henderson’s 5-1 victory over their division rival, with that early success spurring the Silver Knights to three straight road victories.
“I’m feeling really good,” Saville said. “Recovering and stuff like that has been long, but I’m feeling a lot better now, being that I’m able to be back with the guys and being able to perform.”
And perform he has. Over seven games, Saville is averaging 2.52 goals against with a .914 save percentage. After his hot start – and a quick call-up to the Vegas Golden Knights – he concluded 2023 with another major milestone, his first career AHL shutout.
But when asked about his early successes, Saville is quick to attribute them to the entire team.
“I think in my wins the team has just really come together,” he said. “We’ve been great in the d-zone, and that really helped me over my first few games. When I hadn’t played for a while, it was nice to have those guys have my back and help me get into the game early. It shows you don’t just win a game with one guy.”
“I think when we’re winning puck battles and doing all the things that [Head Coach Ryan Craig] talks about, it shows a lot of confidence in our game. And it makes my life easier, especially because when you can see how hard the guys are working in front of you, it inspires you to work even harder [in net] for them. So it goes all the way down the line, from forwards to defense to goalie. It’s like a snowball effect.”
That whole-team effort has been a common refrain from Silver Knights players and coaching staff alike after Henderson’s biggest victories. Coach Craig knows that the team performs at its best when getting contributions up and down the ice and has made it a crucial part of his messaging to the team.
“It starts with [Isaiah Saville], he was really big, especially in the third period,” said Craig after Saville’s shutout, a 3-0 victory over the Ontario Reign. “But all our guys were ready to battle and compete…We talk about working above the puck and below the puck and just sticking with our game.”
So, what does ‘sticking with our game’ look like from between the pipes?
“I think success is mostly just staying in your routine,” Saville explained. “It’s not so much being superstitious, but you need to stay in a routine so that you don’t let outside noise bother you. I think that can get to a lot of people’s heads, where if you mess up one thing, you’ll kind of spiral. So I think it’s important to stay in your routines, but also still have the confidence that you do the work day in and day out. That’s how you can perform and get wins.”