World Juniors: Zach Fucale in goal for Canada vs. Denmark
Canada not taking Danes lightly in knock-out game
Zach Fucale will return to the Canadian net on Friday against Denmark after splitting the preliminary round games with teammate Eric Comrie at the world junior hockey championship.
Comrie made 25 saves in Canada's 5-3 victory over the United States on Wednesday at Montreal's Bell Centre. Both goaltenders have won two games apiece for the unbeaten host side.
"It just shows how this staff has confidence in both of us and everyone on the team," Fucale said after Thursday's practice at Air Canada Centre. "It's not a problem. (Comrie) and I have been working hard and we just want to contribute."
To an outsider, Canada appears to be simply rotating its two goaltenders. However, head coach Benoit Groulx said there's a process to his staff's decision on who plays.
"We sit down, the coaches, we talk with our hockey people," he said. "When we sit down after each game and we discuss that matter, we all agreed on what we've got to do. For us, we're very comfortable with both goalies.
"No tough debate. We're pretty much on the same page. It's always a tough decision because both of them deserve to play."
The Canada-Denmark winner will play either the Czech Republic or Slovakia in the semifinals. The Sweden-Finland quarter-final winner will play the winner of the Russia-United States game.
Comrie, a Winnipeg Jets' 2013 second-round pick, has a 1.55 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his two appearances. Fucale, who was drafted in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens, has a 0.50 GAA and .975 save percentage.
Forward Sam Reinhart is thankful he's not the one making the goaltending decision.
"I'm not too surprised we're still switching them," he said. "I don't know how you put one over the other. They've both been great."
Fucale has the edge when it comes to experience.
The 19-year-old netminder was 2-2 with a 2.42 GAA and .902 save percentage at last year's world juniors as Canada settled for a fourth-place finish. He also won a MasterCard Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2013 and earned a gold medal at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
"You learn a lot when you win, but you learn twice as much when you lose so things like last year is a little extra motivation for us," said Fucale. "We want to make sure we prepare well for this first game of the elimination round."