It's been a long and winding road for Zach Fucale.
In 2013, the Halifax Mooseheads goalie backstopped his team to the Memorial Cup championship. Less than two months later, Fucale, originally from Laval, Que., was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL draft.
After eight challenging years, Fucale, 26, made his NHL debut on Thursday in Detroit against the Red Wings. He stopped all 21 shots he faced in a 2-0 win, becoming the first Washington goalie to record a shutout in his debut.
"I couldn't dream it better to be honest, this is a really great moment," said Fucale in a post-game media scrum. "It's been a hell of a journey but now the first one is out of the way and we move on to the next game."
Fucale, who led Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF world junior hockey championship, has played for teams all over North America.
In his seven pro seasons, he moved from St. John's to Orlando to Fort Wayne and teams in eight other cities for a total of 11 minor league stops in the ECHL and American Hockey League. He was called up from the AHL's Hershey Bears.
He was told before he flew to Detroit that he would get the start in goal. His parents were in attendance for the game.
"We won and it was a great game and it was a really good defensive game for our team," said Fucale, who was showered with water sprayed by his Washington teammates when he came into the locker room immediately following the game. "They were super happy for me. It was a really cool moment."
Fucale became the fifth former member of the 2013 Memorial Cup team to play in the NHL. The others are Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, MacKenzie Weegar and Marty Frk.
"You always have roads and paths you can take in life and his road to here was long," said Washington head coach Peter Laviolette. "But he stayed on the right road and he got the start here and was rewarded with a big win. It's awesome."
Washington's next game is Friday night in Columbus.
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