Seeing as it was the first game after a summer off, it wasn’t surprising that Sharks rookies weren’t able to get in an early rhythm on Saturday night in the first of two games against the Anaheim Ducks. But a great goaltending performance from Timo Pielmeier and the energy provided from the line of Jonathan Tremblay, Nate Raduns and Jared Walker helped the Sharks overcome a landslide of penalties and a big shot differential to earn a 2-1 victory.
Timo Pielmeier made his North American hockey debut on Saturday night a favorable one by stopping the 29 of 30 shots on the night. Had it not been for a point shot that deflected off one of his own defenders, he would have been perfect.
“The key to the whole game was our goaltending,” said Roy Sommer, the head coach of the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate. “Timo was unreal.”
The night didn’t start off great for the German netminder who was drafted by the Sharks with the 91st pick in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft that was held in June. He was whistled for a delay of game penalty just 11 seconds into the game. After catching a puck that was dropped into the zone, he held on to it instead of putting the puck back in play. The questionable call seemed to give him a sharper focus moving forward, which was needed due to the 30 shots put on net by Anaheim.
“After starting that way, that is the kind of game I needed I think,” said Pielmeier. “I like being active and all the shots put me in a comfort zone.”
Later in the first period, the Sharks took two penalties 1:03 apart giving the Ducks :57 of five-on-three power play time. Anaheim took four point-blank shots on Pielmeier, but he stood strong thwarting each attempt.
As the game moved on, Anaheim became content shooting five-hole and taking shots from the point. Pielmeier was able to stand strong and limited the opponents’ opportunities. Wayne Thomas, who works closely with the goaltenders, was impressed with the performance.
“I thought he was very strong. It seemed like we were killing penalties all night long. I thought he did a really great job this early in the season in finding pucks and his rebound control was excellent. They could have had a lot more shots but he ate a lot of pucks.”
But while things went well, Thomas took it with a grain of salt. While not being critical, he knows that Pielmeier has a lot to learn about the pro game. Having watched a lot of tape on the netminder, he knows there is talent, but only experience and coaching will help him realize his tru potential.
“He’s got great recovery and anticipation. It’s hockey sense or whatever you want to call it. He anticipates the play ahead of time. He gets there and he’s square and gives him the ability to control his rebounds. But at the same time, there are some subtleties that he can work on that will make the game easier.”
Pielmeier, though only 18, showed a great deal of maturity and self-awarness by hinting at the things that Thomas touched on. His main focus for the time being is adjusting to the trapezoid behind the net, which isn’t a part of the German game.
“That’s the first time I’ve played with the trapezoid,” admitted Pielmeier. “It is hard to come in without practicing with it a whole lot. But that is one of the reasons I came over to North America this year.”
Pielmeier will stay in North America for this season. Assuming that he does not make the Sharks roster, he will be sent to St. John’s of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He is expected to assume the lion’s share of the time in net this season. He played in Koln last season, bouncing between the junior team and DEL team.
Pielmeier was afforded a two-goal lead with strikes by Torrey Mitchell
in the second period and Logan Couture
in the third period.
Mitchell’s goal was a great individual display of skill. Controlling an advantageous bounce, Mitchell zig-zagged through two Ducks defenders. He cut out in front of the net and beat Anaheim netminder Gerald Coleman with a low backhander. Hunter Tremblay and Nate Raduns assisted on the goal.
“That was a great move that he made on that goal,” reflected Sommer, who didn’t stop there in his praise of the forward. “That’s what’s going to make him challenge for a job in San Jose. It’s his quickness. He’s like a rat on a piece of cheese. You know, he gets after it.”
The Sharks gained a 2-0 lead with 15:05 left in the third period via a patient goal by Logan Couture
. Couture received a nice pass from the corner from Jamie McGinn. Instead of one-timing a shot toward the net, he gained control of it and skated across the crease. Waiting for Coleman to commit, he beat the Ducks tender stick-side. Setoguchi earned the secondary assist.
The goal was really set up by the play of Jonathan Tremblay, Raduns and Walker. The trio kept the Ducks hemmed in their defensive zone for nearly a minute and a half. Tremblay was especially impressive on the fore-check during that time, helping keep the ice slanted towards the Ducks goal.
“The line that did the best job for us fore-checking was Tremblay, Raduns and Walker,” said Sommer. “They had a heck of a game. It was the best game that I’ve seen Tremblay play.”
It may come as no coincidence that his “best game” is the first one since changing his body. Over the summer, the rough-and-tumble forward lost nearly 15-pounds and came to camp looking lean.
“It was something I felt that I had to do to play at this level,” said Tremblay. “I feel better, faster and have a lot more energy. I worked hard all summer and I am happy with the way things worked out tonight.”
As for not engaing in a fight, the native of Fauquier, Ontario’s calling card, Tremblay was happy to be on the ice for extended amounts of time.
“Of course I want to stay out there and show that I can play. But if the opportunity comes along where I have to fight, I won’t shy away from it – never have. That’s my job. Tonight, I got a little break and the other guys did it for me. I’m just happy with the game and looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Ducks salvaged their only goal with a man-advantage. Defenseman Andy Schneider sent a slap shot in from the point that deflected off a Sharks defender, beating Pielmeier on his stick side. Bobby Ryan and Brendan Mikkelson assisted on the tally.
A LOOK AT THE PHYSICAL PLAY
- A great exchange took place just five minutes into the game. With the Sharks on the power play, Anaheim’s Ryan Carter attempted to push the play in transition. The Sharks Luke Fritshaw wanted no part of it and leveled Carter with a clean body check. With the ooh’s and ah’s raining down from the crowd, the puck deflected across the ice. In a scramble for the loose puck, the Sharks Ashton Rome and Anaheim’s Jason Bailey skated into a thundering collision. The crowd appreciated the all-out effort with a good ovation.
- After the Sharks Juraj Valach exited the penalty box in the first period, he was able to break up a pass play. Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey, a fourth round pick from 2006, flew in after the play and caught Valach with a hard hit. While the 6-foot-6 defenseman was rattled, he wasn’t moved very far. Following the play, Beleskey then unloaded on Rome. After the whistle, Justin Wallingford came over and had words with Beleskey.
- The first fight broke out with 4:16 left in the second period. A wild goal mouth melee developed into fisticuffs between Frazer McLaren and Bobby Ryan. Neither landed a good shot as they went to the ground. Ryan had a distinct advantage at the beginning of the confrontation as McLaren had to deal with Mikkelson climbing on his back. McLaren, known for his pugilistic skills, compiled the seventh most penalty minutes in the Western Hockey League last season with Portland.
- The teams would wait until the third period for the second fight. James DeLory and Bobby Bolt dropped their gloves and removed their visored helmets on the face-off at 8:16. DeLory quickly landed a big right and grabbed Bolt’s sweater by the collar. While holding the collar, he stunned Bolt by jabbing him with the collar-held left hand. DeLory connected with two more rights before the fight ended. DeLory used his longer reach to his advantage in the exchange.
DeLory offered this on his fighting style, “I do that [grabbing the collar] often, usually trying to hold guys off and jabbing with the left hand. It keeps them off balance and helps line up for a big right.”
SCRIBBLES ON A NOTEBOOK
Pielmeier is extremely adept at covering his five-hole. The Ducks focused many of their shots between the wickets, but Pielmeier was successful in stopping each attempt…The two players with the best speed are Torrey Mitchell
and Devin Setoguchi. Mitchell was a beast defensively, giving the Ducks no room to breathe by beating them to the puck time after time. His handles while carving two Ducks defenders on his goal didn’t go unnoticed either. Setoguchi’s speed is especially noticeable in the offensive zone. He creates space with quick changes in direction. He also led the team through neutral zone transitions, putting a great deal of pressure on the opposing D. This was evident when he beat the Anaheim defense and wristed a shot off the near-post just 4:15 into the game…Ashton Rome has the quickest release on the squad. Anytime he cleared the blueline, he was a threat to score unleashing lightning wrist-shot after lightning wrist-shot. With a little more accuracy, it can become a dangerous tool in his arsenal and it should make his linemates happy as rebounds are inevitable…Derek Joslin looks extremely poised. He is rarely out of position and makes sure decisions. It appears that he put on nearly 10-pounds of muscle from last season’s camp…Jonathan Tremblay seemed to gain confidence in the game. Not used to a regular shift since turning pro, he wreaked havoc on the ice fore-checking with reckless abandon.
In the spirit of development and evaluation, the teams agreed to suit up 19 skaters for the game. The NHL caps the number of skaters at 18 for sanctioned play.
Derek Joslin, Ashton Rome and Jamie McGinn served as the Sharks captains for the game. Roy Sommer offered the following reasoning for their appointment:
“Rome - this is his second rookie tournament. He’s got some experience last year with us.”
“Joslin’s a leader-type guy and he finished the season with us last year.”
“McGinn is one of those types of guys that teammates follow and he leads by example.”