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Sharks eager to hit the links after win

by Dave Lozo
MANNHEIM, Germany -- What would a trip to a foreign land be without an opportunity to explore the territory? Members of the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are planning to enjoy the experience of Finland's saunas when they arrive in Helsinki for their Compuware NHL Premiere games.

The San Jose Sharks are no different. After beating Adler Mannheim 3-2 in their Premiere Challenge game Saturday, they will have Sunday to themselves to check out all this area has to offer. The food, the history, the scenic views sprinkled throughout the countryside.

Or, maybe they'll do what a lot of adult men enjoy doing with their time off -- spend it on a golf course.

That's what the Sharks will be doing, and they'll be doing it with members of Adler Mannheim on a course in nearby Heidelberg, which is about 30 minutes away by car.

"I'm a golfer," said Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi, who boasts a 6 handicap. "I like playing with my own clubs, but it should be fun to get out there and see what the golf course is like out here."

Coach Todd McLellan emphasized that this is a players outing and that he'd be having no part in it.

"We won't find out tomorrow," McLellan said when asked if his golf game is something to be proud of. "I don't golf once the season starts."

Luckily for the Sharks, the off-day was scheduled before they made the 12-hour flight to Mannheim on Friday. Trailing 1-0 with less than 7 minutes left in regulation, it wouldn't have been out of the question to have that off-day canceled after a loss to a DEL team. But the Sharks came back and won 3-2 in a shootout, allowing the players a clear conscience when they tee off on Sunday.

"I don't know because I think most of the guys would've been happy to sleep. I know a couple of the guys were exhausted and didn’t want to wake up for the game. They were pretty tired," said Sharks star Joe Thornton. "It'll make the day off a little bit more special now."

And even while the Sharks spend it chipping out of sand traps and catching up on their sleep, it's not as though they weren't exposed to some German culture on Saturday night. Fans at SAP Arena spent most of the game chanting, singing songs and waving flags, something that's rarely seen during NHL games.

Most of the noise was provided behind the net Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi defended twice. Every fan in the four rows behind Niemi spent the game on their feet, getting the rest of the crowd into it to help support Adler Mannheim.

"I played in a lot of World Championships (in Europe). First time actually in Germany and I thought it was a lot of fun," said Dany Heatley, who was born in Germany but raised in Canada. "It was a lot of fun. The crowd was a lot of fun and it was a great rink."

"The crowd was good. It kind of reminded me of (a Major League Soccer) San Jose Earthquakes game I went to," Setoguchi said. "It was great. It was a good experience for a lot of us. A lot of us young guys don't get to see a lot of that and a lot of older guys don't get to see that. They have good fans here."

As loud and into the game as the fans were Saturday, the Sharks probably could use a little peace and quiet while lining up their putts Sunday.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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