Canadiens fans will spot a familiar face on the ice this month when the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship gets underway at home in two of hockey's biggest markets.
On Monday morning during a press conference at the Bell Centre, Habs prospect Zachary Fucale was among the 29 players invited to Team Canada’s pre-tournament selection camp.
CLICK HERE FOR CANADA’S NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM SELECTION CAMP ROSTER
“I’m looking forward to what should be a great preparation [for the tournament],” acknowledged the fourth-year Halifax Mooseheads netminder, who joins Winnipeg Jets goaltending prospect and fellow 2013 NHL Draft pick Eric Comrie at the camp which kicks off on December 11 in Toronto. “We’re going to win. That’s the goal. That’s the ultimate goal. Every country wants to win and Canada is no different. That’s what we want to do and that’s what we’re heading towards.”
While there are typically few guarantees in the world of international hockey, with just two goaltenders on Hockey Canada’s list of invitees -- and thus no further cuts to make at the position -- Fucale and Comrie are nevertheless locks to be among the 22 young men hitting the ice when the home team opens its preliminary round play on December 26 in Montreal.
“We’re heading into our selection camp with just two goaltenders on our roster,” noted Team Canada head coach Benoit Groulx. “Our choice to do so is the result of a process which started two years ago. The goaltenders were scouted by our goaltending coach as well as by [Hockey Canada scout] Ryan Jankowski. Together we came to the conclusion that over the last two years, Fucale and Comrie have been the two most consistent, competitive and successful goalies in the country. We truly believe they represent the best goaltending tandem in Canada.”
With roster spots already wrapped up and just the de facto starter left to be determined, Fucale meanwhile insists there won't be any controversy between the pipes.
"Coms and I have known each other for a long time and we're going to be good teammates through all of this," affirmed the six-foot-one QMJHL product of his WHL counterpart. "All either of us wants to do is help the team win. Ultimately that's our job and whoever is in there needs to give the team a chance to win every night."
Even so, as a 19-year-old native of Laval, QC, Fucale now has the opportunity to finish his under-20 World Junior career in front of friends and family after previously representing Canada in Sweden a year ago.
“It’s going to be a great experience. I’m excited to play here at the Bell Centre as well as in Toronto. These are two unbelievable buildings to play in,” concluded the Canadiens' 36th overall pick from a season ago, whose last Bell Centre appearance came in a 2013 preseason start opposite the Buffalo Sabres. “It’s something that will help me in the future. Having all of our fans behind us will give us a lot of energy to build off of. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship runs from December 26, 2014 to January 5, 2015 at the Bell Centre in Montreal and at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Tickets for the tournament can be purchased here.
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The Numbers Game - November 29, 2014