In a somewhat curious turn of events, the Washington Capitals have sent goaltender Hunter Shepard back to the AHL only three hours after initially adding him to their taxi squad.
The Caps then re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale to the taxi squad in Shepard’s place. Shepard’s tenure with the big club lasted one practice.
NEWS | The Capitals have re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale from the Hershey Bears to the taxi squad and have re-assigned goaltender Hunter Shepard from the taxi squad to Hershey. #ALLCAPS | @FTX_Official https://t.co/nXnOeQJYNt
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 6, 2022
It appears the Capitals needed Shepard to be available just for that one practice and preferred to take Fucale with them on their two-game road trip westward. Fucale is the owner of one career NHL start where he recorded a shutout against the Detroit Red Wings and in doing so became the first netminder in franchise history to blank a team in his NHL debut.
As a member of the taxi squad, Fucale will be eligible to take the trip with the team and fill in if deemed necessary through injury or potential protocol-related issues.
Fucale has had a yo-yo type season where he has traveled back and forth from Hershey to DC and back numerous times. Notably, one of those times ended up with him contracting COVID-19 and being forced to miss time in the AHL when he returned.
In ten games played for the Bears this season, Fucale sports a 6-2-2 record with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .889-save percentage.
More from the Capitals:
Capitals Re-assign Zach Fucale to Taxi Squad from Hershey
Goaltender Hunter Shepard re-assigned to Hershey
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) to the taxi squad and have re-assigned goaltender Hunter Shepard from the taxi squad to Hershey, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Fucale, 26, became the first goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut when he stopped all 21 shots against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 11 at Little Caesars Arena. In 10 games with the Bears this season, Fucale has posted a record of 6-2-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage.
During the 2020-21 season, the Laval, Quebec, native led the AHL in goals-against average (1.80) and ranked second in save percentage (.932), establishing career highs in both categories. The 6’2″, 189-pound goaltender played the most games (11) he has played at the AHL level since the 2017-18 season, posting a 9-2-0 record. Fucale’s nine wins were tied for eighth in the AHL, while his two losses were the fewest among goaltenders with at least 660 minutes played. Fucale and Pheonix Copley received the AHL’s Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, presented to the goaltenders on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season. In 90 career AHL games, Fucale has a 43-36-6 record with a 2.88 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
Shepard, 26, has posted a record 2-1-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in three games with Hershey this season. Additionally, the 6’0″, 215-pound goaltender has appeared in nine games for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL, posting a record of 3-4-2 record with a 3.43 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.
The Cohasset, Minn., native appeared in three games with Hershey in the 2020-21 season, finishing with a 3-0-0 record with one shutout, a 1.00 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage. Shepard played in 21 games with the Stingrays, earning a 12-6-2 record with one shutout, a 2.55 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Shepard earned Goaltender of the Week honors with South Carolina in the week of May 24-30 after going 3-0-0 with a shutout, a 1.33 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.
Shepard signed an AHL contract with Hershey on June 30, 2020, following a four-year career with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the NCAA. In 119 games with the team – which included an NCAA-record 115 straight games from Oct. 21, 2017 to March 7, 2020 – Shepard finished with a 76-37-5 record, ranking first all-time in Bulldogs history in wins, goals-against average (1.94), save percentage (.922) and shutouts (17). Shepard won back-to-back NCAA Championships with the Bulldogs in 2018 and 2019, was twice named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Goaltender of the Year (2019 and 2020), earned First-Team All-American honors in 2019 and Second-Team All-American honors in 2020. Shepard finished his NCAA career as a three-time Mike Richter Award Finalist – given to the NCAA’s top goaltender – and a three-time All-NCHC selection.
Prior to his collegiate career, Shepard appeared in 81 games with the Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) from 2014-15 through 2015-16. In 2015-16, Shepard earned North American Hockey League Goaltender of the Year honors, was named to the First All-Star Team and led the NAHL in games played (50), wins (34), and shutouts (8), while ranking second in goals-against average (1.90).
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