Hockey is back in San Jose.
Wednesday night saw the Second Annual Prospects Game take place at SAP Center. Team White prevailed over Team Teal 2-1 on a late goal by second round draft pick Noah Rod. The 8,000-plus fans in attendance helped provide an electric atmosphere, and they had several highlights to cheer for.
- Getting to see some familiar faces. The two Sharks rookies who shared Co-Rookie of the Year honors last season returned to their home ice. Tomas Hertl didn’t play but received huge applause whenever he was showed on the scoreboard smiling broadly on the bench. Matt Nieto played a few minutes and participated in the shootout after regulation, missing his shot. He enjoyed playing against former minor-league teammates and being a veteran on the ice. With his first year under his belt, Nieto’s looking forward to taking a different role with the Sharks this season.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are to be a leader…You don’t have to be that vocal, you can lead by example, so that’s something I plan on doing next year, too.”
- Some of the draft picks are already paying off. Rod had two goals on the evening, including the game-winner and a shootout goal. The 53rd overall selection had 37 points in the Swiss Jr. League and collected three points in 28 games for the top Swiss League. The 18-year-old was the youngest player on the ice on Wednesday night, although he was one of the most impressive, using his body more than expected for his 6’0”, 190-pound frame.
“I want to have the puck, so I make everything for protecting the puck, so I use my body for that.”
And how did he feel about his first goal at SAP Center?
“That’s cool. It’s like a dream. I loved it.”
- 22-year-old goalie J.P. Anderson had a solid night in the net. Team Teal peppered him with 19 shots (to Team White’s 13), but Anderson held his ground on his way to the win. Anderson spent last season splitting time between the San Francisco Bulls and the Ontario Reign in the ECHL. He credits his progess with getting back to basics.
“After the Bulls ended I went to Worcester and did a lot of work there, just practicing and working with the goalie coach there….and then kind of just got back to fundamentals and was able to take that into the latter part of the season. I felt like I played well down the stretch last year, and I think that just gave me some confidence going into the summer and hopefully take it into next year.”
Anderson credits a full year in the minors as a huge factor in his developing his confidence.
“The first time you come in here you’re kind of one of the younger guys, maybe deer-in-the-headlights a little bit, kind of don’t know what to expect. But this is my third time now at development camp. I’ve been out here a few times. I’m comfortable with a lot of the guys, so I try to be a leader and help out the young guys if they have any questions.”
And on facing his own teammates during the scrimmage?
“It’s all good. There was a few jokes out there, a couple of things to say after, so it was good, it was fun.”
- Forward Chris Crane, who had the lone-goal for Team Teal, was also impressed with the young players on the ice on Wednesday night. The 22-year-old split his 2013-2014 season between the San Francisco Bulls and the Ontario Reign, scoring 23 points.
“It’s always good to see 18-year-old and 19-year-old guys coming in, and they’re very skilled and very talented, and that’s good news for us, for the older guys. It’s my fifth year at this development camp, and they bring competition, so that’s always good. And it’s good news for the Sharks, too.”
If the Prospects Scrimmage is any indication, the San Joe Sharks organization and fans have a bright future. Training Camp begins in September.