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Goalies could steal Top Prospects spotlight

by Mike G. Morreale

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- In addition to there being plenty of high-caliber forwards and defensemen on the rosters for the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), the four goaltenders set for battle might have a say in the outcome.

The four goalies were ranked among the top six on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American goaltenders -- No. 1 Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, No. 3 Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, No. 5 Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League and No. 6 Philippe Desrosiers of the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.

         Zachary Fucale, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans (WHL), No. 2 on the list, originally was invited to participate in the game, is unable to participate due to an undisclosed injury. He was replaced Monday by Desrosiers.

NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen, who specializes in goalie prospects, gave an analysis of each player. Fucale and Jarry will split duty for Team Cherry, while Martin and Desrosiers will share the net for Team Orr.

Fucale, who is 28-4-2 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .896 save percentage, will have the hometown faithful in his corner with the game being played at his home rink, the Metro Centre in Halifax. Fucale probably is the only goaltender of all the 2013 draft-eligible prospects at his position to have the best chance at being chosen in the first round. Earlier this season, he became the fastest 17-year-old goaltender to reach 50 career wins in the QMJHL, and his 28 wins this season ranks first among all Canadian Hockey League goaltenders.

"Zach is an excellent positional-style goalie with great stance and balance," Jensen said. "He plays and looks big in all situations, has an excellent butterfly style and is very tough to beat down low. Zach is very calm, relaxed and dependable, and has excellent rebound control. He directs the low shots and absorbs the higher shots."

Fucale shared Mooseheads co-MVP honors with MacKinnon last season when he set a QMJHL record for wins by a 16-year-old goalie with 32. He also posted a 23-save shutout in a 4-0 victory against Finland in the gold-medal game of the Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer.

Jarry, who has been exceptional as the backup to Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit, is 11-4-0 with a 1.68 GAA, .934 save percentage and four shutouts in 16 games for the Oil Kings.

"Tristan has great net coverage and rarely leaves any holes for shooters," Jensen said. "He plays big in his stance or while in butterfly and is very confident and relaxed. He never seems to get rattled, has a good command of his crease area and is good at handling the puck. He's shown great balance and control in his stance and when moving laterally."

Spencer Martin

Martin, who has struggled with consistency in the first half of the season for Mississauga, still offers plenty of promise. The 6-2.25, 192-pounder is 12-11-2 with a 3.02 GAA and .909 save percentage in 28 games.

"He has a fantastic compete level, great drive, determination and work ethic," Jensen said. "He's excellent in the crease, battling hard for space and is good at challenging shooters. He has excellent quickness with his feet and pads and an excellent glove hand. He has a lot of NHL skills already but has a tendency to play anxious, which has gotten him in trouble. He has the potential to move right up."

Desrosiers (6-foot-1.5, 184 pounds) is 19-7-4 with a 2.97 GAA and .905 save percentage in 33 games this season, his second in Rimouski. He's regarded as the No. 2 goalie in the QMJHL.

"He's an excellent positional-style goalie," Jensen said of Desrosiers. "He plays big and is calm, relaxed and poised. He's quiet back there, with quick feet and pads. He's got very good feet and good technical ability. He has a very good butterfly, good extension, and has excellent control and balance when moving laterally."

In 37 games with Tri-City, Comrie (6-0.75, 167) is 20-14-3 with a 2.62 GAA and .915 save percentage. Comrie had a 10-game stretch in October where he went 8-0-2 with a .939 save percentage.

"He's a very quick and athletic goalie, exceptionally strong and quick laterally or when pushing off the post," Jensen said. "He plays big, has very good angle play and a great glove hand. He's very quick in his recovery, has an excellent battle and compete level and never gives up."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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