The team was down two games to none in the first round of the playoffs, facing a tough Weeks Crushers team. Fancy didn’t know why he was being pulled aside, but was sworn to secrecy by his coach.
He could hardly believe his ears as coach Shawn Evans gave him the news.
“For some unknown reason, Shawn told me he was going with me for Game 3.”
The next night, 20-year-old netminder Shayne Campbell watched from Fancy’s seat on the bench as the rookie made 20 saves in a 6-3 victory in front of 1,785 hometown fans.
“I was probably a little terrified, but we won that game,” recalled Fancy. “Shawn went back to Campbell and we ended up winning the series.”
Six weeks later, they were Fred Page Cup champions. Looking back on his four-year career as a Bearcat, Fancy points to that win as the most satisfying of his life. “I like to think maybe I was a bit of a ‘TSN Turning Point,’” he says.
But the biggest win, he hopes, is yet to come.
Fancy came to the Bearcats as a first-round draft pick from the Halifax Titans major midget program. While Evans doesn’t spend much time watching midget games, he took an interest in Fancy.
“I saw a lot of him late in the season and in the Atlantics,” the coach said. “He was highly touted coming out of midget. He acted like a leader on the ice.”
He served as a backup in his first junior A season, but was sprung into action when Campbell went down with a concussion in February. He was baptized by fire, going 6-1-1 in eight straight starts.
As a sophomore, he carried the load through the regular season and posted a league-best 2.24 goals against average. The Bearcats were primed to reach the Fred Page Cup again.
“I was having a good year and the team was doing well,” he recalls. “It was clear we were making a run for it, and I knew I was young, but I thought I was capable. I thought I was safe.”
After practice one day in January, he was called back into the small office outside the dressing room again. In front of him were his coach and captain, staring back at him. His mind went to one place – “I’ve been traded.”
But that wasn’t the case. Instead, they were bringing in outside help. An Ontario Hockey League goalie named Chris Festarini. Fancy was back on the bench again.
“That one hurt,” he said. “(Shawn) did what he had to do to win a championship, and it worked. So looking back, it’s easier to handle now. Everything happens for a reason.”
Last season, the path was paved for Fancy to hold the No. 1 job. After a shaky start to the year, he settled in late and turned in big playoff performances as Truro ran to another league final. While he’d taken lumps along the way, none hurt quite as much as being swept by the Dieppe Commandos for the Kent Cup last April.
“We had just persevered so much all season,” Fancy said. “We came into the playoffs as the eighth seed and we just felt like we were a better team than the standings showed. We got through so much to make the finals, and then – it was just to not even win a game, you know?”
For three seasons, Fancy rode a wave of highs and lows. Coming into his senior season, he made a few adjustments to his physical game, but overhauled his mental game to be calm and even-keeled.
Today, Jacob Fancy is in the midst of a career season. Aside from Thomas Stavert of the Summerside Western Capitals, there isn’t another player who makes a case for league MVP as strong as the Bearcats’ netminder. He eats minutes and he eats pucks. If not for his consistent performances, the Bearcats would be hurting for a playoff spot instead of hunting for another division title.
On Friday night, against the South Shore Lumberjacks, Fancy took another step in his career. His 48-save shutout gave him the Truro Bearcats all-time wins record with 64.
In four seasons, Fancy has seen three league finals, two Fred Page Cups and one Kent Cup title. While he watched most of those from the bench, this spring will be the last chance to win something for his team.
His coach can’t think of a better script to write.
“He’s taken some lumps along the way but he’s turned himself into an MVP-type player,” Evans said. “I wish I could get some of my younger guys that are just starting out to understand it’s a process. He understands it. He’s taken his lumps. I brought other goalies in on him. He just kept being a professional.
“Now it’s his time.”