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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Komets goalie Zachary Fucale was a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens and has played 63 games in the AHL.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Zachary Fucale of the Komets prepares for a shot from the Indy Fuel during the third Saturday night at the Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Zachary Fucale, 23, is looking to join the long list of outstanding goaltenders for the Komets.

Friday, October 12, 2018 1:00 am

New goalie has the makings of a star

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

There are those with retired jerseys hanging from the Memorial Coliseum rafters, such as Nick Boucher, Robbie Irons and Chuck Adamson. There are those, such as Pokey Reddick and Tom Lawson, who have won championships. Some have gone on to play in the NHL, such as Kevin Weekes, or come down from it, like Tim Cheveldae.

The Komets' history is littered with great goaltender after great goaltender. You would be hard pressed to find a season in the 66 that have already been played in which the team didn't have a very, very good one.

Last season, it was Michael Houser. This season, it will be Zach Fucale.

And, yes, he's got the pedigree.

• Second-round draft pick of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens in 2013, after he won a Memorial Cup with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Halifax Mooseheads.

• Gold medal with Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships.

• 63 games in the higher-level American Hockey League, including a 10-7-0 record last season with Laval that included a 3.26 goals-against average .890 save percentage.

• Stopped 24 of 25 shots Sept. 19 in an NHL preseason game for the Vegas Golden Knights in a 5-1 road victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

While some players with such a résumé might not be jazzed to be in the ECHL, in which he's already paid his dues, Fucale is embracing his chance to join the long list of storied Fort Wayne goaltenders.

“In my opinion, it's a matter of perspective,” said Fucale, 23. “I'm here to improve my game. I've learned from the Vegas coaches that they're not burying me in any way. I'm here because I've got the opportunity to win some games here and to play hard and to improve certain aspects of my game. That's the main, important part of things – at the end of the year, you want to look back and say that you've improved this much in this area and that's great.”

Fucale played 57 regular-season games, and 11 playoff games, over the last two ECHL seasons for the Brampton Beast, under former Komets captain Colin Chaulk. Last season, he was 5-4-0 with a 2.83 GAA and a .913 SP.

He signed in the offseason with the Golden Knights, who reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first NHL season under former Komets assistant coach Gerard Gallant, and then signed an affiliation agreement with the Komets.

Fucale is fifth on the Golden Knights' netminding depth chart behind Marc-André Fleury and Malcolm Subban, who are in the NHL, and Oscar Dansk and Max Lagacé, who are with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

It probably won't be long before Fucale gets called to Chicago.

“That's exciting for me. It's motivating. I have a fresh start here with the Vegas organization and they've really given me a couple of great tools to set up this season,” Fucale said.

Fucale, 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, was born in Laval, Quebec, and grew up idolizing a Hall of Fame goalie from the area – Martin Brodeur, who played for the New Jersey Devils.

“To get to the next level, you need an overall game to make it to the NHL,” Fucale said. “For me personally, I want to take that next step. I'm really willing to make those sacrifices. It all starts here by winning some hockey games and I'm excited about it.”

jcohn@jg.net