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Olympians Thankful For Opportunity

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
With the Turino Olympics completed, the NHL schedule is set to resume Tuesday. For the four members of the Sharks who were selected to play in the tournament - Joe Thornton, Evgeni Nabokov, Marcel Goc and Christian Ehrhoff - the tournament did not bring them a medal. But despite their inability to be on the medal stand Sunday evening, the players would not replace the experience for anything.

Nabokov was the Shark that had the most success in the Olympic tournament. His Russian team defeated the powerful Canadians in the quarterfinal match, sending his fellow Sharks teammate, Thornton and the rest of Team Canada home.

But it was not long after that the Russians themselves were ousted. Two shutouts against them, first from the silver medal-winning Finland, then by the Czechs in the bronze medal game.

Although he didn’t leave Turino with a medal, Nabokov excelled in the tournament. The netminder, who fought hard to be a part of Team Russia after previously being ruled out due to his play with Kazakhstan years ago, posted some of the best numbers by any goaltender in the Olympics. His 1.34 goals-against average and three shutouts tied him with Finland’s Antero Nittymaki for first among goalies. Nabokov’s .940 save percentage kept the Russians in the running for a medal.

For Team Canada, the Olympics were disappointing. Favored to win gold, the Canadians ran into a red hot Nabokov who shut them out, 4-0, last Wednesday.

Thornton was able to notch three points (one goal, two assists) in six games played, and was happy about being selected to the team after being overlooked in the last tournament.

Two members of the German team, Goc and Ehrhoff, also enjoyed their time in Turin. Goc posted one goal in five games while Ehrhoff notched a goal and an assist. Goc even had the opportunity to play with his older brother Sasha, who played in the NHL for Tampa Bay and New Jersey.

“We (Marcel and Sasha) were roomies and our parents were here for games two, three and four,” said Goc. “We played all right against the Czechs and Canadians, but in our big games that we needed to win against Italy and Switzerland, we tied.”

“It was a great tournament,” said Ehrhoff. “It was awesome to play against all those great countries with all their best players. Obviously we didn’t do that great, but it was a great experience and we learned a lot and hopefully it’ll be good for us in the future.

The day after the Sharks finished their last game before the Olympic Break, Steve Bernier was assigned to Cleveland during the break to get more work. He was recalled by the Sharks over the weekend.

“It went pretty good being back, we won two of four games,” said Bernier. “It was a good thing for me to go down and keep playing during the break. I have some close friends over there, so it was fun to see them again.”

Appearing in 13 games with the Sharks this season, Bernier has posted five points (1-4=5) and a +2 plus/minus rating. The rookie forward returns to San Jose with a three-game assist streak intact (0-3=3).

With Cleveland this season, the first-year professional is third on the team with 43 points (20-23=43), despite playing in only 49 games. Even with his time spent with the Sharks, those 43 points are ninth-best among all AHL rookies.

The Sharks will return home for the first time in 18 days when they play host to the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings will be without Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Kronwall and Tomas Holmstrom, as they will be flying straight to Anaheim Wednesday after their celebration in Sweden of their Olympic gold medal. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network and
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