Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
© ANDREW RANKIN/METRO
Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme rallies the troops at the end of their last practice just hours before the Memorial Cup final between the Mooseheads and the Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.
Zach Fucale knows what’s at stake tonight; he understands the unyielding expectation and the possibility of heartbreak.
Except the Halifax Mooseheads’ top ranked junior goalie has the ability of translating all of this to his advantage as he and the Herd prepare for the Memorial Cup final against the Portland Winterhawks in Saskatoon at 8 p.m.
“It’s a privilege to be here in this last game,” said the Mooseheads’ 17-year-old netminder. “At this point all you can do is just play and enjoy the moment and have a lot of fun. We’ll just play the game and whatever happens is going to happen.”
Having beaten Portland 7-4 in round robin action last Saturday, the Mooseheads will be looking to their big guns again to rise to the occasion with a national title on the line. Fucale and the Mooseheads are also expecting an all-out battle against the WHL champions.
“There are so many different things that can happen in a game I can’t really predict what’s going to happen,” said Fucale. “It’s going to be a hard fought game, both teams are going to battle and we’ll have to stick together.”
After their final practice on Sunday morning, Mooseheads’ head coach Dominique Ducharme was simply counting down to game time.
“This is where we want to be,” he said. “We can’t wait for the game to start, we’re not nervous, we’re anxious to start, we want to get it going. We’re going to see the best of them and they’re going to see the best from us.”
As for their Memorial Cup leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon, Sunday may very well be his last day as a Moosehead.
But the projected No. 2 NHL draft pick is keeping all that emotion locked up in the back of his mind for now.
“It’s a weird feeling,” he said on Saturday. “I don’t know what the future holds for me but it’s been a really special year. I don’t want to get too emotional now I’m just focusing on Sunday and not having any regrets.”
He’ll have the benefit of his mom Kathy in the stands cheering him on.
“I’ve been waiting all week for this three hour game and I’m just excited, not nervous,” said Kathy. “If they go out and play the game that they’ve been playing all along, there’s not a doubt in my mind that they’ll succeed. “