by Mike Benton, Special to SJSHARKS.comPENTICTON, Canada
– Four months had passed since the San Jose Sharks ended their 2010-11 season in British Columbia, falling short of their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in a five game loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
By returning to the same Province for its first taste of competition since then, the result perfectly symbolized the dawn of a new season.
Behind the peerless play of Thomas Heemskerk
in net, who stopped all 27 shots he saw, and a collection of multi point performances, the Sharks routed the Calgary Flames in a 6-0 win to open the 2011 preseason’s YoungStars Tournament in Penticton, hosted by the Canucks.
“Our goaltending was really good,” said Roy Sommer, serving behind the Sharks bench as head coach for the tournament. “He kept us in there, we were opportunistic, jumped on a couple of their turnovers and got a couple of quick goals. When we needed a big save, Heemskerk was outstanding.”
San Jose’s attack, matching Calgary’s style in a free flowing pace, produced an array of scoring chances that opened up opportunities for Michael Sgarbossa, Brodie Reid
, and Joe Antilla – all who produced a pair of points.
They did with a roster that had just two players – Sena Acolatse
and Taylor Doherty
– possessing experiencing in an American Hockey League uniform. Collectively, the Sharks never trailed against a Flames team that had nine players suit up and play in the game with experience in the pro ranks.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster for us because we do have a young group here,” said Reid. “I’m kind of an old fart here as an ’89 (birth year). Playing against guys like that, a bunch of guys who have played in the American League, and with how well we played and performed, to build off that you can tell everyone has swagger and is walking around the room with confidence.”
The rout began early and continued often, as the Sharks buried the game’s first six goals.
Charles Inglis opened the scoring just 3:13 into the game to put the Sharks on the board, when he buried a second chance opportunity from the mid slot. The play developed after Flames goaltender Joni Ortio mishandled the puck from behind his own net – coughing up a turnover to Antilla – who missed the first shot off the right post.
Sgarbossa, who came off a four point performance as a Sharks invite in last year’s tournament, picked up where he left off when he took Reid’s centering pass from the right wing and buried a wrist shot over Ortio’s blocker at 4:45 for a 2-0 lead.
Calgary owned a 16-5 advantage in shots through the first 20 minutes and Heemskerk turned away a series of scoring opportunities to keep the two goal lead afloat. After denying a 2-on-1 Flames break on John Negrin’s wrist shot from the right circle, his biggest save of the period came on a breakaway to stop Max Reinhart.
Trevor Cheek’s first goal of the tournament boosted the Sharks to a 3-0 advantage with 12:14 left in the second period. Nathan Moon created the play with a flip pass ahead of the Flames defense and Cheek turned on the afterburners to catch up with the feed and beat Ortio with a backhander.
The lead expanded to 4-0 on Curt Gogol
’s first goal of the tournament when he pounced on a Flames turnover and snuck a forehand deke over Ortio’s blocker with 3:53 left in the period.
Sharks backup goaltender J.P. Anderson
relieved Heemskerk after 23:53 of play and combined with him to stop the Flames on 11 shots in the second period.
Just 57 second into the third period, Reid’s second point of the game and first goal expanded the bulge to 5-0 on a second chance bid from the left circle, when he snuck a shot through Ortio’s five hole from a sharp angle.
“I saw (Dylan) Wruck in front of the net and I almost tried to throw it on to see if he could get a stick on it,” said Reid. “It wound up working out well.”
Acolatse, a Bay Area product, chipped in with his first goal on the power play with 12:09 to play in regulation, increasing the Sharks edge to 6-0 when he fired a right point shot that caught two separate deflections and eluded Ortio’s stick side.
Calgary’s only tally came on a penalty shot goal by Roman Horak with 4:25 remaining in the game. LOVING PENTICTON
With Sgarbossa’s two points in the victory, he has totaled six points and four goals in three career games with the Sharks in the YoungStars Tournament, since it began in Penticton last season. HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST (PENALTY) SHOT
The Flames were awarded two penalty shots in the third period, spanning only 63 seconds in between. After Horak converted to cut the deficit to 6-1, Anderson denied Calgary’s 2011 first round draft pick, Sven Baertschi, on a deke to the five hole. TURN ON (FOR) THE JETS
The Sharks return to play for their second game in the tournament against the Winnipeg Jets, who feature 2011 first round selection (seventh overall) Mark Scheifele on their roster, on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Online coverage of the game can be viewed via the Canucks YoungStars webpage