“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – Mike Connolly

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On April 15, 2011, San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced on the Sharks website that the team signed unrestricted free agent forward Mike Connolly to an entry-level contract.

“Mike has proven his ability at the collegiate level and we’re excited to help him take the next step in his hockey career,” said Wilson in a press release on the Sharks website.  “Head coach Scott Sandelin and Assistant Coaches Brett Larson and Derek Plante at Minnesota-Duluth have created a terrific, winning environment for young players to succeed and Mike will benefit from that experience moving forward.”

Connolly, who was part of the top-scoring line in Division I {171 points} with junior All-American center Jack Connolly {no relation} and senior right winger Justin Fontaine {who signed with the Minnesota Wild}, led the NCAA champion Bulldogs in goals this season with 28 and was the third-leading scorer for the Bulldogs with a career high 54 points {28 goals, 26 assists} in 42 games.  Connolly’s career season resulted in him being selected to the 2010-11 NCAA All-American Second Team, 2010-11 All-WCHA First Team, 2011 NCAA East Regional All-Tournament Team and being named the 2010-11 insidecollegehockey.com WCHA Player of the Year.

“Any player just wants an opportunity to play and the coaching staff here gave me a chance,” said Connolly in an April 2011 interview with the Duluth News Tribune.  “I was pretty fortunate to play here with such good teams.  I talked with my parents and the coaching staff about my future, and I’m excited about the next challenge.”

Bulldog fans will best remember Connolly for the night of February 5, 2011, as Connolly led the Bulldogs to a 6-4 victory over the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers by scoring five goals, tying Pokey Trachsel‘s 38-year old school record for most goals in a game by a Bulldog {Trachsel scored five goals on November 17, 1972, in a game against Lake Superior State}. 

“I’m not a goal scorer,” said Connolly in an interview with John Gilbert of wcha.com on February 9.  “Ive never scored five goals before.  When I got three, I was pretty impressed because I never even had a hat trick before.  I never had a hat trick here, or in junior hockey, or even back in midgets.”

For his career, Connolly averaged over a point-per-game with 136 points {27th all-time in Bulldog history} on 55 goals and 81 assists in 123 games and became the third Bulldog to open his career with three straight 40-point seasons.

“Mike has been a heck of a player for us for three years and I’m happy for him,” said Sandelin in the same April 2011 Duluth News Tribute article.  “We would’ve loved to have had him for another season but there’s more of a chance for players his size now in the NHL and this is a great opportunity.  He was as good as anyone on our team this season and is a gritty player with a great intelligence for the game.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Mike Connolly goal  {Courtesy of YouTube user “raypeterson01”}
In this video clip, Connolly scores one of the best individual effort goals you will ever see in a game against Denver on December 4, 2010.

Mike Connolly triple OT game-winner {Courtesy of YouTube user “theaverageguys”}
In this video clip, Connolly scores the game-winning goal in triple overtime against St. Could State.  The game lasted over four hours.

Mike Connolly shatters the glass  {Courtesy of YouTube user “badgersioux”}
In this video clip, Connolly delivers the BOOM! as his hit on Corban Knight of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux shatters the glass on opening night at Amsoil Arena.

UMD defeats Notre Dame in Frozen Four  {Courtesy of YouTube user “ornbergdavid”}
Highlights of the UMD Bulldogs upsetting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four.  Connolly’s goal at 0:40 of the video put the Bulldogs up 3-2.

*Information and videos were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.uscho.com, www.duluthnewstribune.com, www.hockeydb.com, www.wcha.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

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About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on June 17, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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