Zachary Fucale has proved one overriding fact to his head coach this year.
“He really knows how to win,” said Dominique Ducharme following a recent practice.
It’s not only that the 17-year-old netminder led the Halifax Mooseheads to its first ever QMJHL title with a 16-1 record, it’s the way he did it.
He admits that his performances weren’t always stellar. There’s the four goal period in Game 2 of their semifinal series against Rouyn-Noranda, or the six goals he sacrificed to the same club four days later in Game 4. But in both cases he pulled through, just like he did in the pressure packed overtime victory he won in Game 3 during the series sweep.
“Everyone contributes in their own way,” said Fucale, the highest ranked junior goalie going into June’s NHL draft. “I have a job and I pride myself on doing it the best I can. It’s really not that complicated for me.”
Those closest to the teenager know he’s a committed student of the game who brings a rare combination of poise and athleticism to the rink.
“He’s paying attention to details,” said Ducharme. “He’s really smart, on the ice he has the ability to read the play, he learns quickly and he can apply the things he learns on the ice, those little details to polish his game.”
He’s happiest, even joyous when he’s between the pipes, a quality he said he’s come by honestly.
“My parents always look at the good side of life and always had a joyous attitude about life.”
He’s carried that same mindset to Saskatoon where at the Memorial Cup he knows he’ll be facing the biggest challenge of his young career.
“We’re facing the best teams and the games are going to be even tighter. But we’re prepared. We’re going in there as confident as we can be.”