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Parade a unique backdrop for Fucale's 18th birthday

by Mike G. Morreale

TORONTO -- When was the last time more than 4,000 fans sang "Happy Birthday" to you?

It happened to Halifax Mooseheads goalie Zachary Fucale on Tuesday during a parade for the first "Mooseheads Day" to honor the team's victories in the President Cup of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Memorial Cup as the best team in the Canadian Hockey League.

Fucale, who turned 18, said it was one of the most memorable moments of his life.


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"The parade was cool, and it's amazing that it fell on my birthday," Fucale told "There were like 5,000 people in the streets, yelling and everything. During the little ceremony we had, there were 5,000 people singing [for] my birthday. Can you believe that?"

Fucale arrived at the NHL Scouting Combine with teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin on Wednesday morning and immediately was forced to don the proper attire for daylong interviews with NHL teams. MacKinnon, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, is rooming with No. 3-ranked Drouin. Fucale, the No. 1 North American goaltender, is sharing a room with Edmonton Oil Kings goalie, No. 3-ranked Tristan Jarry.

Though the three Halifax players are excited to be joining 98 other top prospects this week, their busy schedule Wednesday will take a lot more out of the teenagers. Each looked a bit weary Wednesday morning. But they'd do it all again if it meant being part of the championship parade through the streets of Halifax.

"The people were so excited and passionate, you felt it," Fucale said. "They were waiting for hours and hours. It was successful and it was a proud day for Halifax."

MacKinnon had highs of seven goals and 13 points in four games at the Memorial Cup, incluign a hat trick and two assists in the 6-4 victory against the Portland Winterhawks in the championship game Sunday, and was awarded the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as tournament MVP.

"It was special … a few thousand people came out and all supported us 100 percent, so it's cool we get that kind of support, for sure," MacKinnon said.

Drouin said: "It was great because the fans supported us all year and they showed us again why they're probably the greatest fans in the CHL. It's just a great day with the boys, and we had a lot of fun with that. It was also pretty funny when the crowd began singing 'Happy Birthday' to Zach."

MacKinnon was asked if he had any special motivation going into the Memorial Cup final against Portland, which featured the only player ranked ahead of him by Central Scouting -- defenseman Seth Jones.

"It wasn't motivation that way … my motivation was to just win," MacKinnon said. "I played all year with those guys, and they were like brothers to me, and I wanted to play my heart out. I didn't play for myself or my own draft stock, but obviously that stuff comes when you have good games.

"I don't know how much [my performance] will change things. All I know is that Seth is an unbelievable defenseman and Colorado [which picks No. 1] would be lucky to have him. Ultimately, it's up to them and I expect they'll make the right choice."


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