“Ask him that question,” Evans eggs on. “I want to know what he says. Ask him.”
The 20-year-old netminder pleads his case with genuine surprise, claiming he had no idea he was among the leaders in all junior A hockey in goals-against average and save percentage.
“I have a pretty good idea of where I am in our league,” he said with a coy smile, knowing full well he’s in first. “But I had no idea about the rest of Canada. I don’t pay too much attention.”
His .938 save percentage puts him tied for tops in the nation amongst goalies who have played 10 or more games. Only one other goalie, Nathan Park of the Portage Terriers, has the same percentage.
It’s a drastic difference from the goalie he was at this point last season – often unsure of himself and quick to take the blame for a loss.
“Last year, I got out of the gate to a really bad start and it really wore on me,” Fancy said. “I could never really get back over that hump.”
He spent his summer working out with assistant coach Jamie Barbour, as well as working on the mental side of the game at home. He read several books on sport psychology and drew some valuable lessons from them.
“A lot of it is just weird, little things,” he said. “When you’re in the net, you’re alone for a while and you have time to think. It teaches you to appreciate that thought, finish that thought and then let it go.”
Whatever he’s been doing off the ice, Evans is happy with the results. Fancy’s outstanding play has been a steadying hand for their young team, and has allowed the rookies to learn quickly without worrying too much about a misplay ending up in the back of the net.
“It’s a different group and it’s a different year,” Evans said. “He has a bigger role and more leadership to supply to this group. To be quite frank with you, I expect him to play well.”
The Bearcats currently sit tops in the Eastlink Division and are three points behind the Summerside Western Capitals for first in the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
“Everyone knew in our dressing room, we could do it,” Fancy said. “We’re young but we knew if we worked hard, we could pull a run like this. It’s not all me.”
It’s true – it hasn’t been all him. The breakout play of Connor Morrison, with 17 points in 16 games, as well as improved play from all returning players and the playmaking addition of Brandon Hughes have all been complementary. And then there’s the goalposts, which have come in handy. The Ramblers hit a post and a crossbar when it was still very much a close game on Wednesday.
“When I was little, I remember a Curtis Joseph quote – ‘You have to be good to be lucky,’” Fancy said. “I don’t know how much I want to read into that, but I’ll take them when I get them.”
Helping him along his entire life has been his father, Dean, who is also a goalie. Coming off back-to-back losses to start the month and sitting out last weekend, Fancy turned to his old man for advice.
“I asked him what he thought I should work on that day at practice. I got about a four-page text message back,” he laughed. “He’s quick to point out when I’m playing well and he’s just as quick to give me a kick in the butt, too.”
Fancy will likely be back between the pipes on Saturday night as the Bearcats take on the South Shore Lumberjacks at home. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
As the Bearcats look to avenge a loss to the Lumberjacks in their last outing, Fancy hopes to look up from his crease and see a big crowd.
"After all, who wouldn't want to watch a first place hockey team?"