Zach Fucale having a strong rookie season for the IceCaps

A highly touted draft pick with a large list of accolades is looking to leave his mark on the AHL with a strong rookie campaign.

A QMJHL first team all star selection, a Presidents Cup, the Raymond Lagace Trophy, the Paul Dumont Trophy, a Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy, an Ivan Hilinka gold medal and a World Junior Championship gold medal.

Zachary Fucale has won nearly everything there is to win at the junior level, he was the youngest goalie in QMJHL history to reach 100 wins and left the Halifax Mooseheads as their all time wins leader.

He sits second in all time wins behind Jacques Cloutier which is no small feat in any league. Even while leading Canada to their first World Junior gold medal in five years, he received constant criticism in spite of a 5-0-0 record, 1.20 goals against average, and a .939 save percentage.

Despite all the accolades and awards, there was always a nervousness among Canadiens fans as he entered his rookie season with the St. John's IceCaps.

Fucale immediately silenced many of those doubters by taking over the IceCaps starting job from Dustin Tokarski and posting a 4-1-0 record with a .920 SV% and 2.61 GAA in the month of October.

Even though he had a .898 SV% the following the month, he only had two games under a .910 SV%, unfortunately they were a .742 and .642 SV% outing, thus skewing he overall results for the month.

Currently Fucale is enjoying an outstanding run of form, even if his efforts are not showing up in the win column. The IceCaps have suffered a number of injuries to key players like Jacob de la Rose, Nikita Scherbak and Markus Eisenschimd. The same issue also struck the Canadiens thus prompting the call ups of offensive leaders such as Bud Holloway, Christian Thomas, Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr and Charles Hudon.

That is 95% of the IceCaps' top six to start the year, The only top six forward to not receive a call up at this point is the rookie Michael McCarron, which makes it easy to see how Fucale's run support dwindled recently.

With Carey Price still on the injured list for the foreseeable future and Tokarski splitting starts with Mike Condon, it's apparent that the rookie netminder is going to shoulder the load for St. John's. It's not hard to see why either, his play has improved exponentially during his time with the IceCaps, and he remains the incumbent starter over long time veteran Eddie Pasquale.

As you can see Fucale along with his fellow netminders have faced a ton of shots lately, and they've responded with outstanding efforts in net. There's a trend emerging for Fucale that he seems to play better when he faces more shots, and with the IceCaps play of late he's facing a ton of rubber, thus leading to better games overall.

With just twelve total starts Fucale won't rank in the top of the AHL with the league leaders like Matt Murray and Peter Budaj for SV% or GAA. Yet he ranks in the top eleven for total saves made, showcasing the workload he has every night while in net.

If fans were worried about how Fucale was going to perform at the pro level, he has done everything in his power to silence his doubters. The benefit of finally playing behind an organized and professional defense is clearly showing. It's time to give the rookie his due and enjoy another valuable goalie prospect in the Habs system, because despite his poor numbers in the QMJHL, the kid is alright.

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