Passing the Torch: Bruins lose one goalie to USHL, but another is ready to step up

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bruins goalies Jake Kielly, left, and Zach Driscoll have guarded the net this season. Kielly will now take over primary goal-tending duties as Driscoll is headed for the USHL. -- Rocky Hulne/

Bruins goalies Jake Kielly, left, and Zach Driscoll have guarded the net this season. Kielly will now take over primary goal-tending duties as Driscoll is headed for the USHL. — Rocky Hulne/

The Austin Bruins have been riding two goalies for the first two months of the season and now they’re going switch to just one.

Zach Driscoll, who was recently named NAHL Central Division Star of the week, has been called up to the USHL and that leaves Jake Kielly as the team’s primary goalie. Luckily for the Bruins, Kielly and Driscoll have been rotating starts this season and Kielly will be ready to take over in net.

“I think that competition between them was great and it pushed them both to new levels,” Tok said. “Where they need to improve the most is handling the game situations and work on killing a play instead of pushing the puck back onto play. They both have an amazing ability to stop the puck, it’s just controlling the puck and we’re working on that with both of them.”

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It’s fitting that Driscoll and Kielly were able to help each other along as the two grew up playing against each other in the Twin Cities. Driscoll, who has already committed to St. Cloud State University, is from Apple Valley and he played for Eastview High School and Kielly played for Eden Prairie in high school.

“We knew each other pretty well. We grew up competing against each other and we played against each other for pretty much our whole lives and we went to goalie camp in St. Cloud together,” Kielly said. “I was really glad when I came down here when I found out that I was going to play with him.”

Driscoll is planning on keeping in touch with Kielly and the Bruins as he moves on to the USHL and thinks Kielly will be just fine in net.

“He was definitely the best goalie partner I’ve ever had,” Driscoll said. “He’s a goof ball and I’m a goof ball, so it worked out well. Growing up we were kind of enemies a little bit, but now once we’ve gotten to know each other we became good buddies.”

The Bruins had been rotating Kielly and Driscoll in the net every other night, but Driscoll finally earned two consecutive starts in a sweep of Aberdeen when he stopped 50 of the 51 shots he saw. Tok said that Kielly was close to getting two consecutive starts earlier this season, but he wasn’t quite ready yet.

“Jake’s going to step up,” Tok said. “He’s had his stretches and we almost pulled the trigger on him playing two games in a row.

Jake’s more than capable of running with the ball and being the guy. He’ll definitely be given that opportunity.”

Tok said the team will bring in another goalie to replace Driscoll, but he feels confident with Kielly in the net. Kielly feels prepared to take over in net and he will have his chance as the Bruins play at the Minnesota Magicians Friday at 7:15 p.m. and they will host the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

“It’s an odd situation to just get thrown into the No. 1 position, but I’ve been mentally prepared for it and now I’m going to have to step up my play,” Kielly said. “[Zach and I] both had our highs and lows this year. My high would be his low and his high would be my low. We both helped each other through it and we competed against each other in practice every day. We both pushed each other to another level and that’s all you can ask for in a goalie partner.”

As Driscoll moves on to the USHL, he will look back on his time with the Bruins fondly.

“It’s been a good experience. I’ve definitely learned a lot transitioning from high school into junior hockey. I couldn’t have done it without the help of all of these guys,” Driscoll said. “I’ve always wanted to play in that league and I’m pretty excited about the opportunity.”