When asked what he wanted Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter to call him prior to the world junior tournament, Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Zachary Fucale said “champion.” His résumé is earning that nickname for him.
Fucale, whose résumé already includes a MasterCard Memorial Cup and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship, added another milestone with his 100th career win with a 5-2 decision in Saint John on Tuesday. Fucale was the fastest in QMJHL history to reach the century mark, doing so in only 145 career games – five fewer games than former record-holder Jacques Cloutier achieved the feat in 1979.
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme told the Chronicle Herald. “He’s a great teammate, he’s working hard every day and he’s a great goaltender. The guys really like playing in front of him. We are all happy that he set that mark.”
The Montreal Canadiens prospect is mature beyond his years. He was the full-time starter at 16, led his team to championships at 17, and became Canada’s starter at the world juniors at 18. Fucale is among the league leaders in every statistical category again this season as the Mooseheads try to defend their title.
Naturally, Fucale is modest in accepting praise for his record.
“To get one win takes a lot,” Fucale told Metro. “I’ve been fortunate to play with very good teams for the past three years. Of course this means a lot. It’s good for the players, coaches and the organization and myself.”
Although he holds the QMJHL record for quickest to reach 100 careers wins, the Canadian Hockey League record belongs to former Calgary Hitmen Martin Jones, who did so in 139 games.
TKACHEV MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Anyone who saw the Subway Super Series in November knew the Moncton Wildcats had a dynamic Russian superstar in their system — and I’m not talking about Ivan Barbashev, who more than fits that description.
The Wildcats got a huge boost last week when Vladimir Tkachev finally received clearance to play in the QMJHL.
So much for adjusting to North America. Tkachev made his Wildcats debut on Thursday with two goals and two assists against Chicoutimi, finding instant chemistry with countryman Barbashev.
Tkachev’s playmaking looks familiar to this highlight reel play from Game 1 of the Subway Super Series.
Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce muses about another diminutive Russian sniper as a comparable to Tkachev.
NCAA RECRUITING REACHES NEW LEVELS
The constant arms race between the CHL and college hockey saw a new wrinkle this week when the NCAA board of directors approved new legislation that will allow NCAA coaches to contact players as of Jan. 1 of their Grade 10 year.
Prior to the rule, NCAA coaches weren’t able to contact players until June 15 of the same year.
The rule affects the CHL in that it means NCAA coaches can now begin their sales pitch for college hockey prior to them being drafted in the CHL. How this will affect the CHL remains uncertain, since CHL teams are still able to contact and begin educating prospective players and their families prior to the draft.
It will be business as usual for the CHL teams. There are still big differences between the two, and CHL teams will continue pitching the viability of playing a more NHL-comparable schedule, which NCAA-defect Adam Tambellini stated as his reason for joining the Hitmen recently.
“The WHL offers a lot to players and does a great job of preparing them for the NHL,” Tambellini told Yahoo. “I think both routes are good and it depends on the player, but I think the WHL is just the best option for me and obviously other players believe it’s their best choice, too.”
Meanwhile, the positive headlines brought on by this new rule were dampened by a full scale dust up following a game which also included dueling coaches.
The Seattle Thunderbirds and Moose Jaw Warriors, who play just once a season, did likewise with a line brawl in their game on Tuesday.
– Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino breaks down the top 10 prospects from the WHL with a surprising No. 2.
– With either the Quebec Remparts or Chicoutimi Sagueneens set to host next year’s MasterCard Memorial Cup, becoming the third-straight Quebec-based team to host during the QMJHL’s territory, now the Sherbrooke Phoenix – just two seasons into existence – are hoping to one day do the same.
– The Shawinigan Cataractes are looking to make history by becoming the first QMJHL team to qualify for the playoffs after losing the first 10 games of the season.
– The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds could be on the verge of enjoying the second-best regular season in franchise history.
– University of Ottawa coach Réal Paiement, the third-most winningest coach in QMJHL history, is helping the Gatineau Olympiques’ power play take flight.
– Newly-acquired Kamloops Blazers forward Matt Revel is closer to home, which means seeing his biggest fan and younger brother, Petey, who has Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and autism, more often.
– Former Lethbridge Hurricane, now Brandon Wheat King, defenceman Ryan Pilon talks about life after walking out on his old team, though without getting into specifics behind his trade request.