The Sharks game with Mannheim had them on edge a little longer than they desired, but it did provide a necessary result. San Jose was playing a foreign opponent on their ice and found a way to adjust and come out on top. They also got one step closer to finding a normal routine while on European time, along with finishing the contest without any noticeable injuries.
San Jose trailed in the third 1-0, rallied to lead 2-1, and then saw Mannheim force overtime before Team Teal finally prevailed in a shootout.
“Every win is an important win,” said Joe Thornton
. “It was a good game and they skated really well.”
“You always want to finish the preseason with a win,” said Dany Heatley. “I thought they played very well tonight. We know it’s a very good team over here and a top team in this league.”
The Sharks weren’t on top of their game early, but there were a lot of mitigating factors.
“I think if you gave us another week we would come out better,” said Thornton. “I think the first two periods we were kind of feeling out the game and feeling out the ice surface. We weren’t executing very well and some of the guys were still a little jet lagged. I think a couple of guys didn’t want to wake up for the game, they were pretty tired. In the third period we adjusted well.”
Part of the reason for the tight game was the tough travel and new playing surface for San Jose, but the Eagles were a major factor as well.
“They were a fast team and capitalized on our mistakes,” said Setoguchi. “We were lucky to get back in it.”
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan feels the experience will help his club prepare for the rapidly approaching regular season.
“I’m glad we got to play in that type of game,” said McLellan. “I think it was important for us to play in it. It had some seriousness to it. It had some intense moments. We had to shorten our bench which you normally don’t get to do in exhibition season. We had a four-on-four overtime, we got to work on the shootout. They were a very well prepared team, very well coached. They made it difficult on us all night so they should be very proud of their program.”
A lot of what was on the minds of the players before, during and after the contest was the supportive crowd that applauded for them as well as the host team.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” said Thornton. “They were great and that’s European hockey. I like to think our fans are number one in San Jose and you come over here in Europe and everyone has great fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Germany, Austria or Sweden.”
“This is my first time playing in Germany and it was a lot of fun,” said Heatley. “The crowd was really good and it was a great rink. I think that guys who hadn’t played in international tournaments, it was a little new to them. It was a bit like a soccer game. When you play in those international tournaments, those countries go crazy.”
It reminded one player of a Bay Area sporting event.
“It was a lot like the Earthquakes soccer game I went to,” said Setoguchi. “It was a good experience for a lot of us. They have good fans here and it was fun. That was the best part, they cheered on both sides. But when it came down to it, they wanted their team to win, which they should.”
“They were a very appreciative of the game and that was nice to see,” said McLellan. “They wanted their home team to win and you can’t blame them for that,
The Sharks will have a day to golf or relax on Sunday before getting right back into the thick of it and preparing for opening night in Sweden. The San Jose and Mannheim clubs will chase the little white ball around together on Sunday.
“We’ll have a good week of practice and get ready for Friday,” said Heatley.
“We’ve got six days for the regular season to start,” said Setoguchi. “When we woke up from our naps today, we could have slept about eight more hours. When the time comes, we have to start the season with a bang because Columbus will be playing pretty hard.”