12/30/2016 11:10 PM
Photo By John Warren / Brampton Beast
While Team Canada’s run of stellar performances at the World Junior Hockey Championship is earning many headlines across the hockey landscape this holiday season, one member of the Brampton Beast has been equally, if not more dominant while wearing Team Canada jersey while participating in the world’s oldest international club tournament.
The Spengler Cup is an annual invitational hockey tournament that saw its first action take place way back in 1923. Every year, teams from across Europe plus a select number of North American clubs head to Davos, Switzerland to compete for international supremacy.
Over the years, many NHL stars, past, present and future, have taken their careers to new heights at the Spengler Cup, including San Jose Sharks superstar Joe Thornton, Brampton native and New York Rangers power forward Rick Nash and Montreal Canadiens sniper Alexander Radulov, just to name a few.
This year, Beast netminder Zachary Fucale has not only taken over the top goaltending duties for Team Canada at this prestigious international competition, but he has given his teammates and his country an opportunity to win back-to-back titles tomorrow morning as Team Canada faces off against HC Lugano in the championship game.
The 2016 Spengler Cup kicked off at Davos’ Vaillant Arena on Boxing Day and Team Canada didn’t exactly get things started on the right foot against HC Dinamo Minsk, one of the top club teams in Belarus.
With former Toronto Maple Leaf netminder between the pipes to start the tournament, Team Canada allowed four third period goals to drop the tournament opener 7-4.
Team Canada needed a spark to get back on track ahead of their second game of this short tournament and they looked to Fucale to help settle the ship.
Not only did Fucale take the reins, he ran with them.
On December 27, Team Canada took to the ice against the hometown club, HC Davos, a team with a tournament-high 15 Spengler Cup titles to its credit.
The Canadians may have been outshot 36-34 in front of the hungry hometown crowd but the Rosemere, Quebec native made 33 saves to backstop Team Canada to a monumental 4-3 victory, giving the Beast goaltender his first win in the Red and White since winning gold for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Hockey Canada brass, including former NHL veteran goaltender and Spengler Cup General Manager Sean Burke, saw something in Fucale’s performance and elected to start the team’s youngest player in Team Canada’s elimination quarterfinal against Mountfield HK, based out of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.
Playing a confident brand of hockey in front of their decorated 21-year-old netminder, Team Canada exploded for five goals, including three-point games from former NHLers Andrew Ebbett, Brandon Gormley and Mason Raymond, en route to a 5-1 victory with Fucale standing tall in a near-perfect 19-save effort, helping Team Canada earn a semi-final rematch with HC Dinamo Minsk, the team that handed the Canadians their only loss of the tournament on Boxing Day.
Once again, Team Canada turned to Fucale in a win-or-go-home elimination game and once again, the Beast netminder delivered.
HC Dinamo Minsk fought hard late in the game but thanks to three points from former Edmonton Oiler Marc-Antoine Pouliot and another rock-solid 21 saves from Fucale, Team Canada got their revenge with a 3-2 victory and earned a spot in tomorrow morning’s championship final against HC Lugano.
Fucale’s strong performances have not gone unnoticed by his Beast family back in Brampton.
Beast President and General Manager Cary Kaplan has followed the tournament with great interest and continues to be impressed by the play of the young netminder.
"It is very rare for a goaltender as young as Zach to excel in the Spengler Cup full of NHL and KHL veterans,” Kaplan said.
“We are very proud of his accomplishments and look forward to him helping lead the Beast down the stretch as he has proven over and over again to be a big game goalie."
Beast Head Coach Colin Chaulk may have been temporarily preoccupied in preparing his team for a big matchup against the Toledo Walleye on Friday night but that doesn’t mean he would miss an opportunity to wish his goaltender the best of luck ahead of the championship game.
“We are extremely happy and proud of his performance,” Chaulk said. “I wish him the best of luck the rest of the way.”
Fans interested in watching Fucale in the Spengler Cup final can find the game on TSN 1 and TSN 4 starting at 6:00am EST on New Years Eve.
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