2015-16 IceCaps Season Review: Eddie Pasquale
The 25-year-old original IceCap had a season of peaks and valleys, but a crowded crease may mean the end of Pasquale's IceCap era.
Eddie Pasquale is no stranger to being an IceCap. He minded team's net for three seasons (2011-2014) when they were the Winnipeg Jets' AHL affiliate.
Once the Montreal Canadiens acquired the IceCaps during the summer of 2015, the intention was to have Dustin Tokarski take over starting goaltender duties after losing his Canadiens backup position to Mike Condon. Rookie Zachary Fucale, from the QMJHL, would be his backup. With both positions filled, Pasquale was sent to the ECHL to start for the Brampton Beast. He played a total of 12 games with the Beast, producing a 3.47 GAA and a .890 SV%.
After undergoing two hip surgeries and missing the entire 2014-15 season with the Washington Capitals AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, Pasquale was content to be in either league when the 2015-16 season started.
It was Canadiens Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations, Rick Dudley, who advised GM Marc Bergevin to sign Pasquale to an AHL contract. "I like Eddie as a goalie." he said, "A healthy Eddie Pasquale still has NHL potential."
About a month into the season Pasquale was recalled to the IceCaps when Tokarski was sent to the Canadiens to be Condon's backup during Carey Price's injury. From November to early January, Pasquale split his time between the Beast and the IceCaps, until Tokarski was traded in early January. It was then he became a permanent part of the IceCaps once again, sharing starting duties with Fucale.
While rookie netminder Fucale was the one to watch this season, Pasquale gave him a run for his money. He was a crucial part in keeping his team in many of the games he started when the team in front of him wasn't pulling their weight as much as they should have been.
It was a close contest on who was the better goalie this year, with both netminders going from spectacular to not-so-spectacular in the blink of an eye. There were times when Pasquale stood tall, stopping 40+ shots and bringing his team to victory, then there was the flip side where he was pulled after surrendering four goals on five shots.
Captain Gabriel Dumont said it best when he said, "It's not their [Fucale & Pasquale's] fault. They're getting beat by backdoor plays, tap-ins. We are six men on the ice. When it goes in the back of the net, there are two defensemen and three forwards before that."
Pasquale tends to have a calm demeanor and doesn't get rattled easily, both factors that played a part in his 13-10-3 record in 30 games played, combined with a 2.62 GAA and a .919 SV%.
The season ended with a surplus of goalies for both the IceCaps and the Canadiens, with a total of six goaltenders vying for a permanent spot next season; Ben Scrivens, Charlie Lindgren, Pasquale, Fucale, Condon and, of course, Price.
Pasquale will become a free agent this summer and regardless of him edging out Fucale by a smidgen, and receiving the Fan Choice Award during the final game of the season, it's unlikely that we'll see him backing the IceCaps in the upcoming season. Odds are we'll see a pairing of Fucale and Lindgren minding the net, since unlike Pasquale, their relative youth allows the Habs to plan for the future.