Justin Fazio grew up wanting to play for his hometown Sarnia Sting, now he’s the franchise’s all time leader in wins.
Fazio recorded his 64th career win Saturday in Sarnia’s 7-2 triumph in Barrie, which surpassed Patrick DesRochers for the team’s all time mark.
More often than not, you could find a young Justin Fazio at Sting games, as he was able to benefit from his family’s season tickets. That’s what makes this milestone a special one for both him and his family.
“Just to have my name in the record books in my hometown is unbelievable, especially getting to pass Patty, who’s my mentor and was my goalie coach for three years.”
DesRochers played three seasons with the Sting and went on to play nine seasons professionally, including a handful of games with the Phoenix Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes. He was also the Sting’s Goaltending Coach when the team drafted Fazio in 2013.
He didn’t even realize he held the record until he started looking into it last season.
“I was going through all the goalies, figuring out how many wins everyone had and realized I had the most. Then I saw Fazio was closing in on me pretty quickly with less games played, so I figured barring an injury or trade he’d likely catch me at some point this season.”
DesRochers recalls Fazio’s first OHL appearance back in 2013 as the young goalie was called up to travel with the team for a game at Kitchener’s Memorial Auditorium.
“It was a rough night for the team in Kitchener, so they wanted to give starter Taylor Dupuis a break after the second period and give Fazio a shot in net. I remember he was really nervous, he was just a call up from Junior ‘B’ at that point, but he was able to come in and do pretty well,” says DesRochers.
“I remember him saying how supportive Taylor was during that intermission, to help him get ready for his first OHL appearance.”
Fazio wonders where he’d be in his career if it wasn’t for the help he got from Dupuis during his first couple seasons.
“I’ll always say it, Taylor Dupuis was the best mentor I could have asked for. He showed me what it takes to be in this league, and what I have to do to be successful in the OHL. I’m always going to be thankful for him, he was so amazing when he was here.”
Fazio stopped all 11 shots he faced during that first appearance. But it wasn’t a year later, almost to the day, when Fazio recorded his first OHL win.
“It certainly seems like a while ago, it was a couple games into my 17-year-old season before I finally got my first win, it was in Mississauga I think.”
His memory served him correctly. He stopped 24 shots in the victory as Jakob Chychrun scored his first OHL goal and added another to lead Sarnia over Mississauga 2-1.
Seeing the young goalie develop over the the last five years has been special for DesRochers, who has watched him go from a fourth round draft pick in 2013, to one of the league’s top goalies in 2017.
“The way he moves around that net, he’s second to none right now in the league. He’s a goalie nerd, he knows everything there is to know about the equipment, and is constantly learning more about the position.”
DesRocher played with Sarnia from 1995-1998, which would have been a bit before Fazio became a Sting fan. Fazio, who was born in 1997, jokes he may have been a little young to be a member of the “Patrick DesRocher fan club.”
“I remember watching those Stamkos years, Mark Katic was likely my favourite Sting when I was younger,” Fazio recalls. “I actually have a Robert Gherson jersey that my Papa won during a jersey raffle back in the day, and I still have that.”
Interestingly enough, Gherson could be the next former Sting Fazio passes in the record books. He sits 12 games back of the Gherson’s franchise record for most games played by a goalie.