January 09, 2013
Written for the CHL by Steven Perko of HockeyProspect.com
The goaltenders put on a show at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, and this year, they’re hoping to do the same.
When Team Orr netted a late goal to clinch a 2-1 victory against Team Cherry, it marked the lowest-scoring result in the 17-year history of the Top Prospects game.
None of the four backstops that participated in the showcase gave up more than one goal and Matt Murray of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds was named Team Cherry’s MVP after stopping 17 of 18 shots.
On average, there are 1.25 goaltenders chosen in the 1st round of the NHL Entry Draft. This year’s top goaltending prospects all have a chance to be chosen in the opening round.
Zachary Fucale – Goaltender, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
25-4-1-1, 2.52 GAA, .895 SV%
NHL CS Rank: #1 QMJHL Goalie
Zachary Fucale would love to solidify his position as one of the top goaltenders available in the 2013 NHL Draft by playing well in front of his home crowd.
“All of our fans are going to be cheering for us so it’s going to be really cool.” said Fucale. “I never thought that one day I would be able to play for someone like Don Cherry, such a legend in hockey. Hopefully, we’ll learn something from him and have fun while doing it.”
Earlier this season, he became the fastest 17-year-old goaltender to reach 50 career wins in the QMJHL and his 25 wins ranks first among all CHL goaltenders.
“It has a lot to do with my teammates,” stated Fucale. “Without them, I never would have been able to accomplish a feat like that. I’m grateful to have such a good team with me and we were able to accomplish that together.”
Fucale’s 2.52 goals against average is 2nd-best in the QMJHL and he is also among the leaders in minutes played.
“The thing I notice when I watch Fucale is how much of a cool customer he seems to be, especially watching him last year playing all those games,” said Mark Edwards, Director of Scouting for HockeyProspect.com. “If you talk to goalie coaches they always talk about the mental side of the game. I think Zach has sent a good message to scouts that he is strong in this area.”
“He’s strong at reading the play and reacts well,” added Edwards. “He makes some difficult saves look pretty easy through good preparation and his strong technical ability. In my opinion, he has few weaknesses and big upside.”
“I pride myself on always progressing day in and day out,” said Fucale. It’s a day-by-day thing. The more the season goes on, the harder we work and it can only get better as the season goes on.”
With Mackinnon & Drouin expected to go early in the 2013 draft, Halifax could have three 1st-round NHL picks for the first time in franchise history.
Eric Comrie – Goaltender, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
19-14-1-2, 2.66 GAA, .913 SV%, 2 SO
NHL CS Rank: #1 WHL Goalie
When the Americans traded Ty Rimmer to Lethbridge in the summer, they had high expectations for 17-year-old Eric Comrie. Although he didn’t play in the 2012 post-season, he did have a successful regular season campaign, going 19-6-1-1 with three shutouts.
Comrie has been a workhorse for Tri-City this season. He’s started 36 of his team’s 40 games and his 2118 minutes of playing time ranks 4th among CHL goaltenders.
“I saw him live for the first time at the World Under-17 in Windsor last season,” said Edwards. “Our western scout Charles An had some pretty high praise. I saw him again early this year. He is a solid prospect. It starts with good positioning and he does a good job of reading the play.”
Since starting 2012/13 with losses in 3 of 4 games, Comrie has an 18-11-1-2 record, including a 10-game stretch in October when he went 8-0-1-1 with a .939 save percentage. He currently sits 4th in saves and 6th in wins in the WHL.
“I prepare for every game like it’s the biggest game of my life,” said Comrie. “I do a lot of mental visualization and just really get into the moment and get in the zone.”
“I’ve just recently added meditation to my every single day routine to just help me get in the moment, relax a little bit. It’s really helped me so far.”
“I don't see any huge weakness, which is a big positive,” added Edwards. “I thought he could be slightly faster post to post but that’s already improving as his legs get stronger. His rebound control looked good and he has proven big save ability.”
In contrast to the Canada-Russia series that he participated in, Comrie is looking forward to taking on his fellow countrymen.
“We’re playing against Canadians. It’s going to be a different style of hockey. They guys aren’t going to be used to each other. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Tristan Jarry – Goaltender, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
10-4-0-0, 1.80 GAA, .930 SV%, 3 SO
NHL CS Rank: #2 WHL Goalie
There is only one word to describe Tristan Jarry’s performance so far this season – consistent. Despite playing in only 15 games, he’s played well when getting the call in net. Jarry has given up more than three goals only once in 2012/13.
“Jarry got off to a great start this year,” said Edwards. “I loved what I saw from him early on with a solid Ivan Hlinka camp in Toronto. One could argue he should have made the team. I don't recall him letting in a goal.”
He’s followed up a great August performance with an impressive season to this point. Jarry currently sits 2nd in goals against average in the WHL. He also ranks third in the league in save percentage and shutouts.
“The difficult thing for scouts is that unlike the other goalies in the Top Prospects game, Jarry has seen more limited time between the pipes for his team,” said Edwards. “I like the fact that he is sound technically.”
Jarry was named a ‘star of the game’ in a third of his appearances this season, including a first star selection in wins against Kamloops and Vancouver.
Spencer Martin – Goaltender, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
12-9-0-1, 3.08 GAA, .906 SV%
NHL CS Rank: #1 OHL Goalie
It’s been an up-and-down sophomore season for Spencer Martin and his Mississauga Steelheads. He won 11 of his first 13 games, including a stretch where he went unbeaten in 9 straight appearances while posting a 2.19 goals against average and .941 save percentage.
Wins have been harder to come by lately for Martin as the Steelheads have struggled to be consistent on the ice.
“I have seen Spencer Martin play for quite some time going back to his Toronto Jr. Canadiens days,” said Edwards. “He stole plenty of games leading up to the day he was selected by Mississauga in the 1st round.”
“I learned how to carry myself as a professional with a lot of veteran goalies like JP Anderson and Brandon Maxwell,” said Martin. “I haven’t focused on the draft too much. I’m just worrying about day-to-day and getting wins for the Steelheads.”
The scouts at HockeyProspect.com say Martin plays big in his net and moves quickly for a player of his size. He always seems to make big recovery-type saves because he never quits on a play.
“One thing I have always liked about him is he has always been a real competitor,” added Edwards.
The 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will feature 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects and can be seen live across Canada on Wednesday January 16 at 7:00 pm Eastern on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States.
For more information please visit www.homehardwaretopprospects.ca.