Like the Halifax Mooseheads needed another reason for opposing teams in the QMJHL to be shaking in their boots – or should one say skates.
According to head coach Dominique Ducharme, netminder Zach Fucale is playing his best hockey of the season, with his latest victory on Friday night arguably his most impressive – a 35-save performance on the road against the talent-laden Baie-Comeau Drakkar, a team the Mooseheads beat 3-1.
“He keeps improving. I think he’s playing his best hockey of the year, and that’s a great sign heading towards the end of the year,” Ducharme said on Sunday.
It’s not like Fucale was playing poorly – far from it. He is leading the entire Canadian Hockey League in wins (33) and his goals-against-average of 2.39 is second best in the QMJHL.
But playing with a team loaded with up-front firepower, Fucale has gone plenty of games without seeing much action, and at times, it’s led to some softer goals being allowed.
“What I’ve liked in the last few weeks is he’s more consistent,” Ducharme said.
“He needed to get used to seeing a lot less shots and get used to that rhythm in the game.”
Fucale has played in all but eight games this season, and Ducharme wants to make sure he gets some rest to get prepared for what the team hopes will be a long playoff run.
With that in mind, Ducharme said over the team’s final 19 games, back-up Chris Clarke will be in the net more often.
“We’ll see Clarke play a little bit more in the next few weeks,” Ducharme said.
“It’s to give (Fucale) rest, but at the same time, we need Chris to get into a few more games. You never know what can happen. He needs to be ready to go.”