By Peter RoumeliotisSpecial to ECHL.com
Whether in junior or professional ranks, at some point, a hockey player will face opportunities of a grand scale. Brampton Beast goaltender, and Montreal Canadiens prospect, Zach Fucale is one player who already has played in several premiere events. Fucale is in his second year of professional hockey and is no stranger to success.
Drafted by the Canadiens with the 36th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry draft, Fucale had a memorable junior career highlighted by winning a President Cup in the QMJHL, a Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup Championship, and a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Fucale believes that those experiences are instrumental in his development moving forward.
“You can’t get prepared for a big situation until you really live it,” Fucale says.
“I’ve been really lucky to play in those big games and whenever I have a big game coming up I feel like I am prepared and feel confident in my ability. Those experiences are helping me right now and will help me in the future.”
Having played in multiple Memorial Cups and World Junior Hockey Championships, the experiences that Fucale brings with him at the pro stage are akin to pursuing a post-graduate degree in the university setting. These immense moments can provide many skills that are transferable and useful, as well as important foundations for a career.
“I get to look back and see how I acted in the past, what mistakes I made, and make sure to really be prepared for future games where mistakes could always happen,” Fucale admits.
With all his junior hockey success, Fucale is now focused on his professional career. Like many players, Fucale admits that the transition from junior to professional hockey can be challenging because of the elite level of elements that the pro game presents.
“It’s a different game. They are smart out there and they can make you look foolish if you aren’t prepared,” Fucale laughs. “It’s fun to be a part of.”
Fucale has appeared in 34 games with the Beast this season, with a 19-8-1 record and an .898 save percentage. In December, he also had the chance to play for Canada at the Spengler Cup and won a gold medal in Davos, Switzerland; an experience he will never forget.
“It was just really awesome to be part of that tournament in a beautiful city. The intensity was high and I am lucky to have been part of those games because they will help me in future playoff games.”
Moving forward, Fucale is excited to continue his journey at the professional level. He is grateful for opportunities, such as playing in the Spengler and Memorial Cups, which he believes already has helped his development as a player. He believes part of the recipe for his success is the ability to be a good teammate on and off the ice.
“At the end of the day we are very lucky to be living the life we are living. We get to play hockey, travel with the team, so I think it’s important to click with them,” Fucale admits.
“Whatever happens off the ice will translate to performances on the ice. I just try to be a good teammate, have fun and make some jokes and that makes everything else more fun to be a part of. “
As the Kelly Cup Playoffs inch closer, the Beast can rest assured they have a goaltender who is comfortable in a huge game setting and is able to perform under pressure. Though his professional career is just getting started, Fucale has already proven he can play like a champion.