QUEBEC CITY – Zachary Fucale’s bid for a second Memorial Cup championship in the last four years fell just short of the 2015 final on Friday.
|Crédit photo: Aaron Bell/CHL Images|
Playing a third game in as many nights at this year’s tournament in Quebec City, Fucale and the Quebec Remparts were bested 9-3 by the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets in the semifinal round.
Although the hosts looked sharp in the first – Fucale notably stopped 13 of 14 shots in a busy opening frame while the Remparts jumped out to an early 1-0 lead – the Rockets were eventually able to take advantage of a fatigued Quebec squad, exploding with a pair of four-goal periods in the second and third to put the game out of reach.
“There was no gas left in the tank, and I’m not saying that as an excuse. We were drained,” admitted Quebec head coach Philippe Boucher. “Three games in three nights – this time against the Western champions – was just too much for us.”
Despite the difficult outing, the Canadiens’ 2013 draft pick never called it quits between the pipes, facing another 44 shots on the night in a tournament in which he had already seen more than his fair share of action.
“Early in the third I asked him personally if he wanted to stay on the ice, and I had [his teammate] Raphael Maheux ask him a second time,” continued Boucher. “I’m not surprised [by his decision]. He wanted to finish his Junior career on the ice, and I respect that.”
Coming off a tough loss to end his 2015 season – and possibly his time in the Junior ranks – at home a day after celebrating his 20th birthday, Fucale meanwhile wasn’t quite ready to start sharing his thoughts on any longer-term decisions, such as where he might be playing this fall.
“That’s not something I’m thinking about right now,” underlined the four-year QMJHL veteran. “The game ended 20 minutes ago, so I’m going to take a break before I start thinking about what’s next.”
What was clear however, was that even if the Laval, QC native’s year didn’t end on a high note, the promising young netminder can continue to keep his head up high moving forward.
“Overall we had a very good season. We took Rimouski to seven games in the QMJHL final, and I think we earned the right to be at the Memorial Cup," concluded Fucale. "Yesterday we beat Rimouski in the tiebreaker (to reach the semifinal round) and I think that as a team we should be proud of the season we had.”
|Zachary Fucale (Aaron Bell - CHL Images)
Twenty-four hours after being shut out by the Rimouski Oceanic, Zachary Fucale and the Quebec Remparts took their revenge over their provincial rivals in the tie-breaking match-up on Thursday night, skating away with a 5-2 win to earn a spot in the Memorial Cup semifinal.
After allowing four goals on Wednesday before being replaced midway through the evening, Fucale bounced back in brilliant fashion the next night, kicking aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced on Thursday, which also marked the Remparts netminder’s 20th birthday.
Quebec won’t have much time to relax after the win as they get set to play a third game in as many nights. They’ll face off against the Kelowna Rockets on Friday, with the winner punching their ticket to the Memorial Cup Final against Michael McCarron and the Oshawa Generals. In their tournament-opening tilt one week ago, the Remparts defeated the Rockets 4-3.
|Zachary Fucale (Aaron Bell - CHL Images)|
QUEBEC CITY - It was a tough night for Zachary Fucale and the Quebec Remparts on Wednesday against the Rimouski Oceanic at the Colisée Pepsi. The hosts of the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament fell 4-0 to their provincial rivals, forcing the two teams to meet again in Thursday's tiebreaker.
Despite numerous Quebec scoring chances early in the first period, Rimouski was the more opportunistic of the two teams, getting on the board first and taking control of the game. As has been the case since the start of the tournament, Fucale was once again tested early and often on Wednesday, facing 25 shots in just over 32 minutes of play. Following the Oceanic’s fourth goal at the midway point of the game however, Remparts head coach Philippe Boucher pulled his starting netminder in favor of Callum Booth.
The Canadiens’ second round pick in 2013 won’t have to wait long to put Wednesday’s result behind him, as Quebec and Rimouski will now meet again for the 17th time this season in Thursday’s tiebreaker. The winner of the tournament’s first elimination round will then go on to face the Kelowna Rockets in Friday’s semifinal.
Michael McCarron and the Oshawa Generals clinched a spot in the Memorial Cup final on Tuesday night with a 2-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets at the Colisee Pepsi.
McCarron failed to register a point for the first time during the tournament, but he still came close to scoring in the latter stages of the first period. While his shot beat Rockets goaltender Jackson Whistle between the legs, it ultimately hit the goal post. The 20-year-old centreman finished the night with a minus-1 differential, registering two shots on goal, dishing out three hits and winning nine of the 20 draws he took.
McCarron was also used in a crucial defensive role during the game, taking to the ice while the Generals were trying to kill off a 5-on-3 situation at the end of the game in order to protect a one-goal lead.
“[Coach] has been using me in those situations all year, especially in those defensive situations to win some faceoffs,” offered McCarron. “Unfortunately, I didn’t win that one, but I thought I did a good job working with our defenseman and getting in the passing lanes. I know they had some good chances. I think we were right in their kitchen a little bit too much and they couldn’t get a shot on net.”
The Generals will now enjoy a four-day break before vying for the Memorial Cup title. Their opponent will be determined during the semi-final on Friday night.
“I love that we have four days off before the finals,” concluded McCarron. “Everybody in there is a little bit banged up and needs a little bit of extra rest. This is going to help us for sure.”
In the much anticipated tilt between two of the Canadiens’ top prospects at the Memorial Cup, Michael McCarron’s Oshawa Generals bested Zachary Fucale and the Quebec Remparts by a score of 5-4 in overtime on Sunday at the Colisee Pepsi.
McCarron got things off to a strong start for Oshawa, tipping a shot past Fucale less than three minutes into the opening frame. The towering pivot then picked up a second point by collecting an assist on the Generals’ second tally of the night to up his Memorial Cup point haul to three, one behind tournament leader Michael Dal Colle, who also dons an Oshawa jersey.
Even though he came out on the wrong side of the scoresheet, Fucale was outstanding between the pipes in just over 78 minutes of play. The Canadiens’ second-round selection in 2013 faced a total of 50 shots, including 18 in overtime alone. The deciding goal ultimately came at the 18:07 mark of the first overtime period.
By securing their second win of the tournament, the Generals have assured themselves of a spot in the semi-final, and they can lock up a spot in the championship game if they down the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night.
For his part, Fucale will enjoy a two-day break before the Remparts take on the Rimouski Oceanic on Wednesday.
|Michael McCarron (Mathieu Bélanger - Getty Images)
Despite spotting Rimouski an early two-goal lead, Michael McCarron and the Oshawa Generals bested the Oceanic 4-3 on Saturday, during the second day of Memorial Cup action from Quebec City.
The Canadiens' second-round pick in 2013 had a busy afternoon, setting up the Generals' first goal while also dropping the gloves in the second period opposite Samuel Morin. The imposing center was also excellent in the faceoff circle, winning 10 of his 16 draws, in addition to firing four shots on goal and leading his teammates in the hits column.
McCarron won't have to wait long to return to action, set to face off against fellow 2013 Canadiens draft pick Zachary Fucale and his Quebec Remparts on Sunday evening.
|Zachary Fucale (Aaron Bell - CHL Images)|
The Memorial Cup got underway on Friday night as the Kelowna Rockets battled the host Quebec Remparts.
Canadiens prospect Zachary Fucale was between the pipes for Quebec, pacing the Remparts to a 4-3 win in the tournament opener.
Fucale was particularly good during the middle portion of the second period, making back-to-back stops on Kelowna forwards. Of the three goals Fucale gave up, two were tallied while the Remparts found themselves in short-handed situations. The former second-round selection stopped 25 shots on the night to pick up the victory.
Quebec will be back in action on Sunday as they go up against the Oshawa Generals and Michael McCarron at 4:30 p.m. EST.
MONTREAL -- Jacob de la Rose underwent wrist surgery on Wednesday at Montreal General Hospital.
His recovery is expected to be three months.
Tomas Plekanec joined the Czech National Team at the World Hockey Championships. He'll go up against Team Canada tomorrow.
- The Canadiens skated at Amalie Arena on Tuesday morning in preparation for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Tampa. Tomas Plekanec, P.K. Subban and Tom Gilbert did not take part in the practice.
- Despite undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Monday night, Ryan Callahan has not been officially ruled out for Game 6 by head coach Jon Cooper. While it’s likely the Lightning forward – who is currently Tampa’s plus/minus and hits leader – will not be in uniform on Tuesday night, the Canadiens haven’t adapted the game plan in light of his probable absence.
“If we go in with the mindset that it’s going to be a little bit easier tonight because Callahan is out, we’re going to be making a big mistake,” said Lars Eller, who is first on the team and fifth in the league with a 58.6% efficiency in the faceoff circle this spring. “We can’t look at it that way. We’ve had injuries, too, and other guys step up.”
- Getting on the board first has been a recipe for success for both the Habs and the Lightning in the 2015 Playoffs. Currently owning a 3-1 record when opening the scoring – including a perfect 2-0 in two elimination games this series – the Canadiens have made no secret about the importance of getting into the driver’s seat as quickly as possible, especially given the team is 3-0 when leading after the first period and 5-0 when leading after the second this spring.
“You don’t want to get behind the Eight-Ball right away and spend the whole game fighting back. It’s good to establish a lead and try to contain it. When you have a lead, you control the pace,” explained Nathan Beaulieu. “You win games by very low numbers of goals. It’s important to get a quick one right away and contain the lead and push the pace. A good start is always in the back of our minds.”
Currently in the hunt for his eighth-straight win in an elimination game since arriving in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, Carey Price has been a key factor in the Canadiens’ ability to hang on to leads once they’ve gotten them this year.
“We know that he’s going to be a wall back there like he’s been all year long. He very seldom lets in more than one or two,” said Beaulieu of the Vezina, Hart and Ted Lindsay-nominated netminder, who has a .923 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average so far in the postseason. “It’s a special thing we have to work with so we know what we have to do. A lead is so big when you know he’s going to be back there to protect us.”
- The 2014-15 Habs can write a new page in the team’s record books with a win on Tuesday by becoming the first group in franchise history to force a Game 7 after trailing a series 3-0. Instead of feeling the heat of playing win-or-go-home hockey for a third-straight game, the Canadiens are entering Game 6 with confidence, looking to earn another game at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
“We don’t feel pressure; we like to apply pressure,” said head coach Michel Therrien. “The guys feel good about themselves and they love the challenge. This is a group that refuses to die. There’s a really good and special chemistry with this group. They love to be surrounded by each other. They feel confident and the confidence comes because of the way they play.”
- One year ago to the day, the Canadiens were sitting in a familiar setting, getting ready for Game 6 against the Bruins while trailing 3-2 in the series. With the memory of that Conference semifinal comeback still fresh, the Habs are looking to the recent past for inspiration heading into another Game 6, 365 days later.
“We were in this situation last year in Boston. We were down 3-2 and we won the game and then we won the series. We did it last year and we believe we can do it again this year,” stressed David Desharnais, who had an assist and finished with a plus-2 differential in the team’s 4-0 win in Game 6 against Boston last year. “We’ve learned from that experience and we’re confident.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been considered the favorites this season and we heard all the time that last year’s run was lucky,” he added. “We want to prove people wrong.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Amalie Arena.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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