QUEBEC CITY – Zachary Fucale’s bid for a second Memorial Cup championship in the last four years fell one game short of the 2015 final on Friday.
|Crédit photo: Aaron Bell/CHL Images |
Playing a third game in as many nights at this year’s tournament in Quebec City, Fucale and the Quebec Remparts were bested 9-3 by the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets in the semifinal round.
Although the hosts looked sharp in the first – Fucale notably stopped 13 of 14 shots in a busy opening frame while the Remparts jumped out to an early 1-0 lead – the Rockets were eventually able to take advantage of a fatigued Quebec squad, exploding with a pair of four-goal periods in the second and third to put the game out of reach.
“There was no gas left in the tank, and I’m not saying that as an excuse. We were drained,” admitted Quebec head coach Philippe Boucher. “Three games in three nights – this time against the Western champions – was just too much for us.”
Despite the difficult outing, the Canadiens’ 2013 draft pick never called it quits between the pipes, facing another 44 shots on the night in a tournament in which he had already seen more than his fair share of action.
“Early in the third I asked him personally if he wanted to stay on the ice, and I had [his teammate] Raphael Maheux ask him a second time,” continued Boucher. “I’m not surprised [by his decision]. He wanted to finish his Junior career on the ice, and I respect that.”
Coming off a tough loss to end his 2015 season – and possibly his time in the Junior ranks – at home a day after celebrating his 20th birthday, Fucale meanwhile wasn’t quite ready to start sharing his thoughts on any longer-term decisions, such as where he might be playing this fall.
“That’s not something I’m thinking about right now,” underlined the four-year QMJHL veteran. “The game ended 20 minutes ago, so I’m going to take a break before I start thinking about what’s next.”
What was clear however, was that even if the Laval, QC native’s year didn’t end on a high note, the promising young netminder can continue to keep his head up high moving forward.
“Overall we had a very good season. We took Rimouski to seven games in the QMJHL final, and I think we earned the right to be at the Memorial Cup," concluded Fucale, who also won gold at home with Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championships in January. "Yesterday we beat Rimouski in the tiebreaker (to reach the semifinal round) and I think that as a team we should be proud of the season we had.”