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Ferraro taking patient approach with Sharks

Defenseman selected in second round of 2017 NHL Draft hopes to develop in NCAA

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Mario Ferraro, a second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2017 NHL Draft, made a strong impression at San Jose Sharks development camp earlier this month with his speed, strength and passion for the game.

The defenseman hopes another strong season at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will convince the Sharks he's ready to make the jump to the NHL next year.

"My ego would be telling me I'm ready right now," Ferraro said. "I've been thinking that since I was four years old and I started playing. I've always wanted to play [in the NHL]. So the closer and closer I get, the more I'm eager. But for me it's just about keeping that hard work up.

"I'm always looking to improve and always working hard because I know that opportunity will come eventually. Obviously getting drafted here and being here is such a great accomplishment, but I want to keep going. In order to do that, I can't focus on time.

Ferraro, 20, had 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in his first season at UMass, the most by a freshman defenseman in school history. He had 54 blocked shots, a plus-five rating and played in all 39 games. Ferraro (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) also added eight pounds of muscle.

During the first scrimmage of development camp, Ferraro scored a goal and used his speed to consistently join or even lead the rush.

"He was involved in every play," Roy Sommer, coach of the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks' American Hockey League affiliate said." He's just a real energetic, high energy guy. Even when you talk to him, his eyes are wide open and he's taking everything in. You can tell he just loves the game. He loves being out there and being part of making big plays, and that's what he did."

Ferraro said he has plenty to work on during his sophomore season as he pursues his NHL dream, including getting more pucks to the net from the point.

"That's a big thing that I found challenging this year in college," Ferraro said. "Guys really come at you hard at the point, they're willing to get their body in front of that puck. That's what it's going to be at the next level.

"I like to think I've grown in strength and getting power behind that shot, but now it's about finding those lanes and being more deceptive at the point, looking for off-angle shots, looking for guys off the net, kind of that idea of just getting the puck through."

Ferraro will serve as a captain at UMass this season. A 2018 Hockey East All-Rookie Team selection, he broke Brandon Montour's team record for points by a freshman defenseman, set in 2014-15.

"For 15 years now, it's been my goal," Ferraro said. "I'm not about to stop now, right? I'm not focused on time, I'm not focused on how long it's going to take, I'm just trying to work hard and wait for that opportunity to open up, and I trust that this organization, this staff, the coaching staff here will know when I'm ready, and I count on them to make that decision."

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