Press release

Zach Fucale Earns IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year Award

Fucale Named IceCaps’ IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year

(Photo courtesy of St. John's IceCaps)
(Photo courtesy of St. John’s IceCaps)

St. John’s IceCaps Media Release

ST. JOHN’S, NL (March 31, 2016) – The St. John’s IceCaps are proud to announce that goaltender Zach Fucale has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the St. John’s community during the 2015-16 season.

This past season, Fucale has been a community leader for the IceCaps organization.  He has given up countless hours of his personal time to attend team-related events and ensure fans have the opportunity to get an autograph, a picture or a few special moments with him.  Fucale has been a favourite at these events with his signature positive, upbeat attitude when interacting with young people and their parents.

Throughout the season, Fucale has been a team leader in community appearances – taking on this role as a rookie – making his accomplishments and dedication even more impressive.  While continuing to grow as a player and learning to be a professional, the 20-year-old has not lost sight of the importance of giving back.

Education is a pillar of the IceCaps’ community outreach. Fucale has visited schools assisting with reading programs, talking about the importance of respecting others and allowing the children to learn more about his life.  When Fucale walks into a school he shows a genuine interest in what the students are doing, their work and their interests.

The IceCaps provide fans with different game-night experiences throughout the season.  When a fan is close to the players, on the bench for warm-up or something similar, Fucale will always take a moment to say hello, provide a high five to a young child or give away a stick or puck.  These may be small gestures, but create life-long memories for young people and their families.  These moments cement relationships with fans and assist in building a connection between IceCaps players and our community.

Fucale embodies everything that the IceCaps organization is about.   He is an ambassador for the team, the city of St. John’s and the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Zach Fucale is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2015-16 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.

Courtesy of the AHL, here is the complete list of the league’s IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year awards:

Dan Kelly, Albany Devils (3rd-time winner)
Matthew Ford, Bakersfield Condors (2nd)
Zack Stortini, Binghamton Senators (2nd)
Matt Carkner, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6th)
Kyle Hagel, Charlotte Checkers (6th)
Pat Cannone, Chicago Wolves (1st)
Tom McCollum, Grand Rapids Griffins (3rd)
Chris Summers, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
Nathan Walker, Hershey Bears (1st)
Kurtis Gabriel, Iowa Wild (1st)
Ryan Craig, Lake Erie Monsters (2nd)
Davis Drewiske, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3rd)
Josh Morrissey, Manitoba Moose (1st)
Jimmy Oligny, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
Sean Backman, Ontario Reign (1st)
Shane Harper, Portland Pirates (2nd)
Brandon DeFazio, Providence Bruins (4th)
Patrick Kaleta, Rochester Americans (2nd)
Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (1st)
Zach Fucale, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
Ben Street, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
Joe Piskula, San Diego Gulls (1st)
Ryan Carpenter, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
Domenic Monardo, Springfield Falcons (1st)
Bryce Van Brabant, Stockton Heat (1st)
Mike Angelidis, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
Derek Hulak, Texas Stars (2nd)
Andrew Campbell, Toronto Marlies (4th)
Carter Bancks, Utica Comets (2nd)
Will O’Neill, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2nd)


Jake Dowell: A Testament to Character

Jake Dowell (From ESPN E:60)

MONTREAL, QC. — Assembling an AHL team is a little different from doing the same thing at the NHL-level.  Yes, each AHL franchise is a business and needs to be competitive to draw fans but the primary purpose of the team is to develop prospects.  So each player must be on a path to the NHL? Well, not necessarily.

To help prepare prospects for a successful transition to the NHL, a competent coaching staff who are superb teachers (something desperately missing in Hamilton)  are required, as well as character veterans who can demonstrate to younger teammates just how to be a professional.

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin added one of those character players when he signed Jake Dowell to a one-year deal. With 157 NHL games and 305 AHL games under his belt, Dowell will be able to provide the leadership role both on and off the ice as well mentoring his teammates. Last season Dowell won the Fred T Hunt Memorial Award as “the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.” 

Dowell was a teammate of Canadiens defenseman Davis Drewiske when both played with the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA. Dowell won a Frozen Four championship in 2006 with the Badgers. Here are Dowell’s career regular season statistics.

But a testament to his character is found outside the stats sheet. Dowell has a unique family dynamic and is carrying a substantial burden. Dowell lost his father to Huntington’s disease during the AHL All Star break last season.

E:60, ESPN’s newsmagazine profiled Jake Dowell and his family’s struggle with Huntington’s. Dowell said, “It’s just a scary thing that you have to just absolutely be ready to accept your fate either way. It’s basically a flip of a coin.” Watch the video below.

E:60 tells the tragic and courageous story of hockey player Jake Dowell and the genetic curse that hangs over his family and, possibly, him.

(Stick tap to Don MacAskill)