Zach Sanford scored his first NHL playoff goal to help assure that the St. Louis Blues would raise the Stanley Cup for the first time in the organization’s 52-year history.
Lifting a shot to the short side with 4:38 to go Wednesday, the Waterloo Black Hawks alumnus boosted the Blues to a 4-0 lead and toward a 4-1 Game Seven win against the Boston Bruins. It was the 24-year-old’s fourth point in five appearances during the series.
Over the Blues’ 19 games in the Western Conference playoffs, Sanford had had taken the ice three times, all during an opening round series versus the Winnipeg Jets. Inserted back into the lineup for Game Three versus Boston, he recorded his first playoff point on a beautiful pass from behind the Bruins net; it was a rare bright spot in a game the Blues lost 7-2. Sanford dressed for all of the games which followed – and contributed assists in each of the next two – as the Blues swung to a series lead, thanks to 4-2 and 2-1 victories.
“The importance of staying ready is huge,” Blues Coach Craig Berube told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Game Five. “And that’s on [Sanford] working hard, and our guys — our strength coaches and our coaching staff — keeping guys ready, working them. He’s jumped in there and he’s doing great. He looks strong, fresh, skating well. It’s good on him and good on our staff.”
In the same article, Blues Captain Alex Pietrangelo added to the praise.
“Even if he didn’t get a point, if you just watch what he did on the forecheck — a second effort every single time he’s on the puck — he’s relentless,” Pietrangelo said. “He’d be a pain to play against if I was a defenseman. It’s not easy to come in on this level, Stanley Cup Final, and play at this level. It’s a testament to his work ethic.”
The 2018/19 campaign came after Sanford did not play at the NHL level at all in 2017/18 due to injury. He recovered to play in 60 regular season games.
In Waterloo during the 2013/14 season, Sanford had helped the Black Hawks to the Anderson Cup with 17 goals and 18 assists over 52 regular season appearances. It was his only United States Hockey League season. In the Clark Cup playoffs which followed, Sanford had another 12 points in 12 games as Waterloo reached the championship series.
From the Black Hawks, the New England native moved on to Boston College, spending two seasons with the Eagles before signing an NHL contract following the 2015/16 season. Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals, he debuted with that organization, but was quickly traded to St. Louis in his rookie year.
Zach Sanford Notable Moments
• June 30, 2013 – Sanford is drafted by the Washington Capitals the summer before joining the Waterloo Black Hawks. He is chosen at the end of the second round with the 61st overall pick.
• Spring, 2014 – As the Black Hawks climbed to the Clark Cup Final series, Sanford records at least one-point in eight of 12 playoff games, including the game-winning goal, which forces a decisive Game Five against the Indiana Ice.
• November 14, 2014 – Sanford scores his first NCAA goal during a 3-2 Boston College win versus Michigan State. He went on to finish with 22 points in 38 games.
• Spring, 2016 – Boston College reaches the Frozen Four; Sanford is the Eagles’ third-leading scorer.
• July 11, 2016 – The Washington Capitals sign Sanford to a three-year contract.
• October 13, 2016 – Sanford makes his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
• February 27, 2017 – A blockbuster trade sends Sanford from Washington to St. Louis with Brad Malone and multiple draft picks for Kevin Shattenkirk and Phoenix Copley.
• September 16, 2017 – An upper body injury on the first day of training camp keeps Sanford off NHL ice for the entire 2017/18 season.
• January 3, 2019 – After starting 2018/19 going back-and-forth between St. Louis and the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, Sanford is recalled permanently by the Blues.
• June 12, 2019 – Sanford scores in the third period of Game Seven, then lifts the Stanley Cup minutes later.
Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Blues. Copyright Getty Images.