Zach Fucale, the Montreal Canadiens second round pick in the NHL Draft last June, broke another long standing Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record last night.
Fucale became the fastest goaltender in QMJHL history to record 100 wins when his Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-2 Tuesday night. It was the team’s fifth straight win since Fucale returned from playing at the World Junior Championships. A nice bounce back from their 3-6-0 record while Zach was representing his country in Sweden.
Fucale recorded his 100th win last night in just his 145th game in the QMJHL. The old record was set by Jacques Cloutier, way back in 1980, and it took him 150 games to reach the century mark.
The 100 wins already puts Fucale seventh on the all time wins list in Q history. With 20 games remaining this season, and Zach likely to play nearly all of them, he will begin to reel in those ahead of very soon. Maxime Ouellet sits at 101, J.F Labbe has 103 and Mathieu Chouinard is just four ahead with 104.
With the likelihood of Fucale returning to Junior next year very high, as he is not eligible to play in the American Hockey League, he will have a great chance to catch Cloutier’s all time mark of 142 wins.
Fucale took the league by storm as a 16 year old rookie, setting the league records for wins by a first year player with 32. He helped carry a young underdog team that had been in the bottom of the country in the standings for the previous three seasons to the Q semi-finals, unchartered territory for a 16 year old netminder.
The Mooseheads put together a stacked squad the next season, leaving the goaltending duties to a 17 year old Fucale. Though expectations were high, no one could predict Zach would be able to pull off a record of 45-5-3 on the season before going 16-1 in the playoffs, and then winning a Memorial Cup.
The Mooseheads were expected to fall back into mediocrity this season, but Fucale is yet to allow that to happen. He is once again a wins machine, with a record of 23-7-1, carrying the Halifax squad to third in the Q standings. Had he not missed nine games while playing for Canada, the Mooseheads would surely be leading the pack again this season.
Watching Fucale chase down history as he becomes perhaps the best goaltender to play in the QMJHL will be fascinating for Habs fans to watch. His list of accolades will be a long one before he ever puts on a Montreal Canadiens jersey.