SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Growing up in the Southern California city of Long Beach, Anaheim Ducks rookie forward Emerson Etem played a junior hockey tournament in San Jose and had a chance to watch the Sharks play the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion.
Tuesday night, Etem will make his NHL debut at the Shark Tank when Anaheim faces San Jose.
"I grew up watching the Sharks and all the rest of the California teams," Etem said after Anaheim's morning skate. "I went to a Minnesota Wild-San Jose game, maybe in the early 2000s, just on a hockey trip, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm finally here and I'm going to be playing in the same building where I watched back in the day. It's just going to be exciting."
"A good line," he said. "Hopefully we build some chemistry early on. We felt good out there today. It's going to be exciting."
Anaheim selected Etem with the 29th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Last season he had 107 points in 65 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, scoring 61 goals and adding 46 assists. This season he had 12 goals and two assists in 40 games for the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who talked to reporters before Etem revealed he would be in the lineup, said his rookie had "a great camp" this year.
"He was the last cut," Boudreau said. "With a lot of those guys in five days, they were pretty close together, so we're just rotating so they keep playing. If he does play tonight, what you're going to see is a really strong skater and an NHL body. He's got a man's body for a 20-year-old (6-foot-1, 210 pounds). I thought that was really evident in training camp. He's probably very raw as far as a lot of things go, like all young guys are experience-wise, but he's definitely got all the attributes to be a good NHL player in the future."
Etem said he played in a few NHL preseason games last season, including one at San Jose.
"Obviously the NHL regular-season pace is a huge notch above that," said Etem, who hopes to have his parents make the trip from Southern California for Tuesday night's game. "I got a little bit of experience, and I played in this barn last year in an exhibition game. I know a little bit about what it's all about. I just have to go out there and make sure I play a simple game, take it all in and enjoy the moment. Work hard and take advantage of the opportunity I'm given."
Here's how the lineups could look as the Sharks face the Ducks at HP Pavilion:
Boyle, who's battling a cold, missed the morning skate, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he'll definitely be in the lineup. Demers (wrist) and Burns (lower body) took part in the skate. McLellan said Demers is getting very close to being healthy enough to play. Asked if he was encouraged by his progress, Burns said, "I wouldn't use that word. ... I'm doing everything I can. I'm working."
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