ANAHEIM – A packed house at THE RINKS
– Anaheim ICE couldn’t have asked for much more during the first of two Futures Games between the Ducks and Sharks prospects.
The Ducks, who took a two-goal lead in the third, only to have it erased down the stretch by the Sharks, connected on all three shootout attempts in a thrilling 5-4 victory.
Anaheim’s 2011 first-round pick, Rickard Rakell, 2012 second-round selection (and Irvine native) Nicolas Kerdiles and 2014 first rounder Nick Ritchie each potted goals in the shootout, with Ritchie’s conversion bringing the capacity crowd of close to 1,000 to their feet.
"It was a pretty good game all along," said the 18-year-old Ritchie. "We had two nice goals in the shootout, and I was lucky enough to go and score. It can’t get much better than that."
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Ducks winger Stefan Noesen, who underwent a tough 2013-14 season, gave another indication he’s bouncing back, scoring a third period goal and adding two assists tonight. Noesen, who came to the Ducks last summer in the Bobby Ryan trade with Ottawa that also brought winger Jakob Silfverberg, missed most of last season with a knee injury. He came back to score four points in four playoff games with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk.
"I thought we played good as a team," Noesen said. "In the second period, we hemmed them in the whole time, and our power play was clicking left and right. It felt good to go back out there and play again. Our whole team played pretty well."
The Sharks opened the scoring 3:14 into the first on a goal by winger John McInnis, the 25-year-old on a pro tryout with the Sharks.
The Ducks tied it 8:34 into the first on the power play as Rakell took in a cross-ice feed from Noesen and buried a wrister top shelf. Rakell, a center, played 18 games with the Ducks last year and another four in the postseason.
Anaheim went in front 2-1 6:46 into the second when winger Max Friberg punched in a rebound off a Matt Bailey shot on the rush. Friberg, a winger from Skövde, Sweden, has 40 points (17g/23a) in 74 games with Norfolk last season.
The Sharks tied it with 7:37 left in the period on a goal by Rylan Schwartz, a free agent signee out of Colorado College.
Noesen put the Ducks in front 3-2 midway through the third, taking in a Kevin Gagne feed in the slot and slinging it past goalie J.P. Anderson.
Noesen got another assist on the power play when the Ducks made it 4-2 with 7:21 remaining, as he fed William Karlsson in the right circle and Karlsson went to a knee to one-time it home.
Soon afterward, 2012 Sharks draftee Chris Tierney got San Jose within a goal when he punched in a loose puck in the crease.
The Sharks tied it with 2:14 left when 19-year-old Anthony DiFruscia connected on a shot from the right circle, and a scoreless overtime gave way to the thrilling shootout.
"It was fun. The atmosphere was awesome," Noesen said. "I think we have some of the best fans in the league. It’s always fun playing in front of them. It was a great feeling to go back out there and play again. I think all the guys were excited to go out there and show what they got. It was a good first impression."
The Ducks used 24-year-old goalie Ryan Faragher in net through the first half of the game, and he was replaced by 20-year-old Etienne Marcoux halfway through the second. Marcoux had a save in the second round of the shootout that proved vital.
The second and final Futures Game between the Ducks and Sharks is tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Honda Center. Tickets are still available for that game, which will include a postgame autograph session with the Ducks prospects.
"It’ll be nice to play in front of a bigger crowd at Honda Center," Ritchie said. "Hopefully we can get another win and be 2-0 in these rookie games."