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San Jose Will Play On International Ice

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

When the Sharks players drove up to SAP Arena for their first European practice, they were very impressed with what they came across.

“It’s nice, it’s really nice,” said Scott Nichol upon first visiting SAP Arena where the Sharks will play Mannheim tomorrow. “You can see it getting pretty loud. It reminds you of the old Aud in Buffalo. It’s a classic arena that goes straight up. I know Mannheim always has a good team in the German League so I’m sure this arena is a big draw.”

“It’s really nice and clean,” said Pavelski. “It looks like it would be pretty loud. It’s got that tin, loud feeling with the low roof. The fans seem like they will be right on top of you.”

The Sharks are the draw and the reason the building is sold out, but the crowd will definitely be cheering for the home club.

“That’s a good thing,” said Pavelski of the sellout. “It’s fun playing in that kind of atmosphere.”

“I think it will be pretty cool,” said Torrey Mitchell. “I think we’ll get some European flare with the fans and it will almost be like a soccer game on TV.”

There is no question the larger international dimensions of the ice will benefit the home team.

“The cross ice passes take a little longer for the puck to get to you,” said Pavelski. “We’re not going to be making that long of a pass that often. The biggest thing is to not get caught watching on one side. If you spend time watching and get caught on the other side, you’re not going to see (the puck) very much.”

“It throws you for a little bit of a loop,” said Mitchell. “You have a little more time and you need a little more mustard to get the puck across the ice. If anything, that will be good for us. I think you’ll notice it in our end, any missed assignments will be pretty obvious.”

From a defenseman’s standpoint the ice surface means they may have to play a little more attention to their angles.

“You need better positioning, especially when a forward is going along the boards to the corner,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic. “You do have more time with the puck on the offensive blueline.”

In the nets, the Sharks should be in pretty good shape as all three netminders on the roster, Antti Niemi, Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss, all earned their way to the NHL playing on the larger international ice.

Pavelski said that while the boards were a little higher than expected, they seemed to react in a fairly standard form.

“They were pretty true boards, pretty lively,” said Pavelski.

“The boards are a little higher up and I had a little trouble (going over the boards), I’m not a very big guy,” said Mitchell.

There is one aspect of the boards to be on the lookout for.

“The height of the boards is pretty high, so if you get hit, it is going to hit you in the side of the ribs,” said Vlasic. “I’ve played with these boards before in Switzerland in ‘09. They’re pretty high so if you go to clear the puck, you have more boards to hit. It helps.”

How quickly the Sharks can adjust will be known tomorrow when the first puck drops.

The game is sold out, but when they say it is standing room only at SAP Arena, they have added a new meaning. Those fans found behind the nets to the left of the benches are for the most ardent team supporters. Not only do they provide the bulk of the noise in the arena, they also stand the entire time. Partially because they want to and partially because there are no seats.

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