It has been said there is no trait more important for a goalie than confidence, and it looks like Zach Fucale has it – and then some.
Moments after being selected in the first round, 11th overall, by the Halifax Mooseheads at the QMJHL draft in Victoriaville, Que., on Saturday, Fucale was asked what style he plays.
“Is there a style that just stops every puck?” the 15-year-old said with a grin on the floor at Colisee Desjardins. “That’s what I want to do.”
That’s what the Mooseheads want him to do, too, after making him the top goalie selected in the draft. Only once in franchise history has the team used a higher pick on a goalie, and that was NHL veteran Pascal Leclaire at fifth overall in 1998.
The Mooseheads got the pick to select Fucale via the Lewiston Maineiacs dispersal draft on Friday, and getting a goalie early in the draft was a priority for them.
While the six-foot, 160-pound Fucale will have to win a job away from one of Halifax’s returning stoppers, 20-year-old Frederic Piche and 18-year-old Anthony Terenzio, he sounds like he’s more than ready for it.
“I’m gonna be there to win, not just play the tourist,” said Fucale, who had a 3.09 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage with St-Eustache at the Quebec midget AAA level last season.
“I’m going to go there and compete and have some fun.”
Fucale and second overall pick Jonathan Drouin made a little franchise history, as the Mooseheads had never selected two players in the first round before.
The Mooseheads went on to select four more players in the first five rounds, getting winger Adam Erne in the second round (22nd overall); defencemen Carl Tremblay in the second round (25th overall) and Brian Lovell in the third round (49th overall); and fifth-round forwards Ryan Falkenham of Halifax (73rd overall) and Alexandre Sills (79th overall).
The five-foot-11, 198-pound Erne is a potential impact player — a physical power forward with front-line skill — but spent last season with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice and has committed to play NCAA hockey at Boston University.
“If he was living in Quebec or here, he’d be a top-five pick,” said Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell. “He’s definitely a high-end player. You put him up there with Drouin, (Nathan) MacKinnon, guys like that.
“We just felt we had enough picks that it was worth the gamble.”
Both Tremblay, a “steady-Eddy” defenceman, and Falkenham, a “future captain,” could win roster spots right away, Russell said. Lovell has a ton of potential as a “Jimmy Sharrow type,” but Russell said he’s a raw project who probably needs more time to develop. The same goes for Sills, who is big, fast and physical with some upside.
Falkenham played major midget for the Halifax Titans last season and captained Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Winter Games, but missed more than half the season with a shoulder injury. He couldn’t believe his luck of getting picked by his hometown team.
“It feels unbelievable, being from Halifax,” said Falkenham, who has been going to games at the Metro Centre since he was five. “Once they called my name, a tingle went through me.
“They’ve had a rough few seasons. I think they’re coming up the ranks. They’re getting a lot better and they’re going to be a lot better next season and years to come.”
Another player who could make the team is 17-year-old defenceman Mitchell Shewfelt, who the Mooseheads grabbed with the 118th overall pick in the seventh round.
As a 16-year-old, the five-foot-nine, 177-pound Dartmouth native was a regular with the junior A Metro Marauders.
“Any time somebody at 16 can go in there, you look at possibly the transition to major (junior) won’t be as tough for him,” said Mooseheads scout Allie MacDonald. “The thing I like about him is his level of competition. He’s quite fierce.”
With four more late picks, the Mooseheads added depth and took some chances, and walked away from the draft table happy with how things unfolded.
“We feel we met all our needs,” Russell said. “We’re excited.”
SCOUTING REPORTS:Details on the Mooseheads’ 12 draft picks »
DEPTH CHART: How things look for the Mooseheads after the draft »