Monthly Archives: August 2011

“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – Thomas Heemskerk

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On Sept. 29, 2009, San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced the Sharks had signed free agent goaltender Thomas Heemskerk to an entry-level contract.

“Thomas played very well during this year’s {2009} rookie tournament and made a big impression on our staff,” said Wilson in a press release on the Sharks website.  “Doug Soetaert and Craig Hartsburg have done a tremendous job working with Thomas and we look forward to him continuing his development with our organization.”

Born in Chilliwack, B.C., Heemskerk first started skating at age seven after one of the workers at his parents flower nursery, who played hockey, took him out skating.

“My dad always preferred hiring hockey players, and they must have convinced my dad to put me in hockey,” said Heemskerk in an interview via Facebook messaging.  “I was given a few of their sticks and that’s where it took off.”

Instantly hooked, Heemskerk signed up for skating lessons that didn’t go according to plan due to an orthopedic condition.

“I had a problem with being pigeon toed when I was younger and the skating instructor started to put me in net because I was always at the back of the line and I couldn’t do anything,” said Heemskerk in an Oct. 2009 interview with Su Ring of King 5 TV Seattle News.  “It just kind of stuck from there on.”

After playing the 2006-07 season with the BC major midget Fraser Valley Bruins, Heemskerk surprised many in the hockey realm by making the roster of the Western Hockey League’s {WHL} Kootenay Ice for the 2007-08 season as a 17-year-old rookie.  Serving as a backup to Kris Lazaruk, Heemskerk appeared in 27 games and registered a 15-4-3 record to go along with a 2.65 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage.

Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, the Ice signed Heemskerk’s Fraser Valley Bruins teammate Nathan Lieuwen, and feeling set in net for the next couple of seasons with Heemskerk and Lieuwen, the Ice traded Lazaruk to the Kelowna Rockets for a fourth-round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.  Rotating the duo on a consistent basis, Heemskerk registered a record of 7-6-2-2 in 18 games played to go along with a 2.88 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage.

On Dec. 4, 2008, the Ice received the shocking news that Heemskerk was leaving the team and returning home, citing that his heart wasn’t in it anymore.

“Thomas came and spoke to me {Thursday} following the first part of our U.S. trip and said to me that his heart hasn’t been in the game of hockey dating back to last year,” said Ice General Manager Jeff Chynoweth in a Dec. 2009 interview with Jeff Bromley for an article on Bromley’s Ice Chips blog.  “And he just felt it was his time to go home.  Needless to say, I was in total shock and disbelief.  There was no inkling whatsoever that this was coming about.  None of the veteran players that I talked to had any idea this was coming.”

“I was having a hard time, and eventually took myself out of the situation in Kootenay,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “It was a hard time for me, no one likes to quit a season and leave their friends and teammates.”

After a few days away from the hockey, Heemskerk began getting the itch to play again but realized he needed a fresh start and a new team to give him a chance.  On Dec. 30, 2008, Heemskerk got that fresh start and chance with a new team as the Ice traded him to the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.  Appearing in 27 games for the Silvertips that season, Heemskerk registered a 9-15-2 record to go along with a 3.32 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.

“It was a perfect situation for me,” said Heemskerk of the Everett trade in the Facebook interview.  “I’ll always owe Doug Soetaert and the organization for getting me back on my feet.”

While training in the off-season that summer, Heemskerk stayed in constant contact with his agent as both were hoping something would materialize with a National Hockey League {NHL} club.  After weeks of waiting, Heemskerk got the news he was being invited to the San Jose Sharks’ Training Camp on a tryout basis.

“I couldn’t believe it was true,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “The season I had was not picture perfect but I trained hard and prepared myself as best I could for the opportunity.”

Wanting to prove himself to the Sharks, Heemskerk found himself in net for two games at the 2009 Sharks Rookie Tournament.  Playing against the Anaheim Ducks both games, Heemskerk stopped 61-of-64 shots en route to registering a 2-0 record to along with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .948 save percentage.

“It was rewarding to win and be successful,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “It didn’t seem real at the time when you wearing a Sharks jersey playing against the Ducks.”

Impressed with his workouts at Training Camp and his performance at the Rookie Tournament, the Sharks signed Heemskerk to an entry-level contract.

“The contract was the least of my worries at the time,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “I just wanted to show them what I do best, make a name for myself and see where that would get me.”

Returning to the Silvertips for the 2009-10 season, Heemskerk appeared in 42 games and registered a 24-12-4 record to go along with a 2.34 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.

On Sept. 17, 2010, the Silvertips traded Heemskerk to the Moose Jaw Warriors for 20-year-old defenseman Chad Suer in a move that didn’t shock Heemskerk.

“I knew a trade was in the works if I couldn’t crack the pro ranks,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “It’s a strange feeling waiting for the phone call that you’re being traded somewhere.  I didn’t have a clue what teams were interested and Moose Jaw being a small town made it much more interesting.”

In his final WHL season, Heemskerk appeared in 65 games for the Warriors and registered a 36-21-6 overall record to go along with a 2.94 goals-against-average and a.908 save percentage.  In addition, Heemskerk was named team Most Valuable Player along with forward Quinton Howden during the Yara Warriors Awards Night.

Leading the Warriors into the WHL Playoffs for a first round showdown with the Ice, Heemskerk played outstanding as he recorded two shutouts in the series to go along with a 2.52 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage.

Unfortunately, the Ice emerged victorious in six games after a thrilling game six on Warrior home ice at the Moose Jaw Civic Center, also known as The Crushed Can Arena, which saw the Warriors rally from a 3-0 deficit before losing a 5-4 heartbreaker. 

The series clinching win for the Ice not only ended the Warriors season and an era at the Crushed Can Arena, but also the WHL careers of Spencer Edwards, Dylan Hood and Heemskerk.

“It’s one of those things that you hear about for a few years but it’s a lot harder to deal with when it’s your turn to be done in juniors,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “I avoided thinking of it as my last game, but when the game ended, it really sunk in.  The Crushed Can was a great experience to play in.  To play somewhere with so much history and such a unique design was something I’ll never forget, and it was special to have finished my year in it.”

With the junior hockey chapter of his career finished, Heemskerk, who loves being the difference maker and anchor for his team, has been enjoying his time off this off-season by spending time with family and friends.  In addition, Heemskerk has been training in gyms and on rinks in preparation for the upcoming season.

“I haven’t heard anything of where I’ll play,” said Heemskerk in the Facebook interview.  “I’d love to be in San Jose but I know for my development its best to start slow and work my way up.”

HIGHLIGHTS

2009 San Jose Sharks Training Camp Scrimmage  {Courtesy of YouTube user “pj48”}
Heemskerk is in net for Team White in this video clip.

*Information was used from sharks.nhl.com, www.hockeydb.com, jeffbromley.blogspot.com, www.everettsilvertips.com, www.mjwarriros.ca, www.king5.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – Max Gaede

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On the second day of the 2010 National Hockey League {NHL} Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks drafted forward Max Gaede in the third round with the 88th overall pick.

“He’s a strong kid that’s got a lot of talent,” said San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke in an interview with The Mercury News shortly after the selection of Gaede.  “He gets everybody involved and made his team better.  He’s kind of a rink rat player.  One of those players where you may look at it and say, ‘why wasn’t he rated a little bit higher?’  Well, he wasn’t in a glamorous program.”

Described by westerncollegehockeyblog.com as a “power forward that can play the wing, is excellent cycling the puck along the boards, and has pretty good vision and passing ability,” Gaede first started playing hockey around age nine.  Gaede’s mother, Eileen Gleeson, scrambled to dress him for his first practice with equipment she bought used or scooped out of the lost and found bins.

In his first ever practice, Gaede displayed tremendous speed but little-to-no maneuverability as in his first on-ice rush, Gaede smashed into the end boards at top speed.

“He could skate fast, but he couldn’t stop or turn or anything,” said Gleeson in an interview with Loren Nelson for an Oct. 23, 2009 mnhockeyhub.com article.  “I was laughing so hard.  Within minutes though he had figured it all out.”

Attending Woodbury high school in Minnesota, Gaede registered 15 points on five goals and 10 assists for the Royals in the 2007-08 season, his sophomore year.

In his junior year, 2008-09, Gaede led the Royals to a 21-4-2 overall record while registering 44 points on 16 goals and a team leading 28 assists in 27 games played.  Unfortunately, the Royals season ended with a 2-0 upset loss to Apple Valley in the section 3AA semifinals.

A few days after the Royals’ shocking loss, Gaede and his dad, Frank Gaede, were flown to Edmonton as guests of the Western Hockey League’s {WHL} Edmonton Oil Kings.  Hoping to lure Max to the bright lights of Edmonton, the Oil Kings gave the Gaedes the red-carpet treatment at a home game and offered to pay for Max’s education – one year’s worth for every year Max played for the franchise.

“They really sold me on it,” said Frank of the Oil Kings in an interview with Nelson for an Oct. 27, 2009 mnhockeyhub.com article.  “The game was on tv and radio and the team’s locker room was right next to the Edmonton Oilers‘ locker room.  It was a beautiful locker room.”

Impressed with the Oil Kings organization, Frank realized this wasn’t his decision to make and had to bite his tongue a little bit when Max made his decision.

“Max said he wanted to say here in Woodbury,” said Frank in Nelson’s Oct. 27 article.  “It’s his life here.  Max makes his own decisions.  I didn’t want to be the guy that pushed him toward something he might regret the rest of his life.”

Added Max in Nelson’s Oct. 27 article, “It was completely my decision.  Every single parent should handle it like that, I think.  They did it perfectly.”

Shortly after declining the Oil Kings’ offer, the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League {USHL} made their offer to Max, who turned them down as well but admitted saying “no” to them was more difficult as he had developed a strong relationship with then Musketeers head coach Todd Knott.

“That was a huge option,” said Max in Nelson’s Oct. 23 article.  “That was the one where I was almost packing my bags.”

Why did Max decline the Musketeers’ offer?  In June 2009, coach Knott accepted an assistant coach job at Minnesota State-Mankato.

“I didn’t know who the coach was going to be {in Sioux City}; I didn’t know if he was going to like me or not,” said Max in Nelson’s Oct. 23 article.  “It ended up working out pretty well, though.”

Work out it did as on Oct. 11, 2009, Max accepted a scholarship offer to play at Minnesota State-Mankato.

“The coaches are great guys and they were really the main reason why I chose the school,” said Max in an Oct. 16, 2009 interview with Tim Kolehmainen for mnhockeyhub.com.  “It was a great weight off my shoulders committing there but also I take it as the work has just begun.  I know how very fortunate I am with the opportunities I have received.  I have to say it’s a big relief knowing that I will be doing what I love after high school.”

Determined to win a championship, Max returned to Woodbury high school for his senior season and led the Royals to a 15-8-2 overall record while registering 36 points on 19 goals and 17 assists in 25 games played.  In the section 3AA playoffs, Woodbury defeated Park {Cottage Grove} and Cretin-Derham Hall by scores of 5-3 and 2-1 respectively, and got a rematch with Apple Valley in the Section 3AA Final where Apple Valley once again ended Woodbury’s season, this time by a 4-0 score.

Once Max’s season at Woodbury was done, Max joined the Musketeers for the final 11 games of the 2009-10 USHL season and registered two points on one goal and one assist.  A few months later, Max was drafted by the Sharks in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

“For me, I basically pretended like it wasn’t going on,” said Max of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in an interview with James D’Amanda for a June 21 ushl.com article.  “I wasn’t checking the updates – I just kind of let it happen.  I got a call from San Jose even before I looked at the TV.  It’s a huge deal, but if I didn’t get drafted it wasn’t going to make or break my career.”

Returning to the Musketeers this past season, Max registered 28 points on 10 goals and 18 assists to go along with 57 penalty minutes in 54 games played and admitted the transition from high school to junior ice hockey was not a smooth one.

“I come from Minnesota high school hockey, so the USHL was an eye-opener and I learned a lot about working hard this year,” said Max in the D’Amanda article.  “At first, I was really down on myself, but you can’t focus on how bad the last pass was when you can go focus on something else – on working harder.”

Despite producing a solid 2010-11 season for the Musketeers and winning a gold medal at the 2010 World Junior A-Challenge as a member of the U.S. Junior Select Team {made up entirely of USHL players}, Max faced ample criticism all season from critics who placed absurd expectations on Max following the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

“If you ask me straight up, I’d say I had a great year – a fantastic year,” said Max in the D’Amanda article.  “But then you look at my number’s and go, ‘Well, he didn’t have that great of a year.’  It’s more about how I played through a slump and came out of it by the end of the year and helped my team during the playoffs.”

Spending his entire summer training for his debut at Minnesota State-Mankato this fall, Max told D’Amanda he has never worked harder in his life to prepare for this upcoming season and knows his dream of suiting up in the NHL won’t happen overnight.

“It’s like a big staircase, and you can’t skip steps,” said Max in the D’Amanda article.  “I’m continuing up the staircase.  If it takes one year or it takes forever, I’m just taking my time.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Tim Burke discusses drafting Max Gaede  {Courtesy of YouTube user “MNHockeyHub”}

Max Gaede vs. Dominic Racobldo USHL fight  {Courtesy of YouTube user “bigbabysweetssc”}

Max Gaede vs. Lincoln Stars  {Courtesy of YouTube user “musketeershockey”}
In this video clip, Gaede scores on an awesome individual effort in an April 2, 2011 USHL game against the Lincoln Stars.  Gaede’s goal starts at the 1:48 mark of the video clip.  In addition, Gaede screens out the Stars’ goalie on the Musketeers’ first goal and draws the penalty that leads to the game winning goal.

Max Gaede laser-beam goal  {Courtesy of YouTube user “musketeershockey”}
In this video clip, Gaede scores on a laser-beam of a shot in an April 5, 2011 USHL game against the Lincoln Stars.  Gaede’s goal stats at the 1:44 mark of the video clip.

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.ushl.com, www.musketeershockey.com, www.hockeydb.com, www.hockeysfuture.com, www.mnhockeyhub.com, www.westerncollegehockeyblog.com, www.mercurynews.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

“One-on-One” with San Jose Sharks prospect Dylan DeMelo

Photo courtesy of http://www.mississauga.com

Before I begin, I would like to thank Dylan DeMelo for answering all these questions via email.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter @DDem2 and check out his “Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile post by clicking HERE.

How did you become interested in hockey and who was your favorite player growing up?
“My parents got me into hockey at age three, that’s when I started how to skate and from that moment on, I loved hockey.  I would always play it and it would be all we watched on TV.  My favorite player growing up was actually forward Mats Sundin, we watched a lot of Leaf games and he seemed to score every game.  Now, I like watching guys like Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Nick Lindstrom because they are easily the best “D” in the game and they totally dominate games.”

Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to be a pro hockey player?
“As soon as I first started skating I wanted to be a pro player and win a Stanley Cup.”

What did your time with the Mississauga Chargers teach you about the game and yourself?
“Playing with the Chargers, initially, I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to play for the Majors and felt I was ready.  But, playing with the Chargers was a great learning experience against bigger and faster players.  I was able to play in all situations and I learned that I can play against bigger and stronger players and excel at it.  Playing with the Chargers helped me prepare for the Majors.

What was it like playing alongside defensive partner Marc Cantin this past season?
“Playing with Cants was great.  I was very fortunate to play with him all year and lucky enough that he took me under his wing.  He taught me everything basically, what to do in certain situations, what to do when a player is coming down on you, pp and pk, just pretty much everything.”

How have you been able to balance both hockey and your academics?
“It’s tough, a lot of long nights after games but, I’ve had to get a tutor to help me sometimes but the teachers are very understanding knowing the situation and I got great support from my billets and family.”

What are your favorite and least favorite subjects?
“I like learning about the body so Biology and Kinesiology are up there and I don’t mind Math even though it’s very frustrating.  My least favorite is English.”

What was it like playing under head coach Dave Cameron?
“Dave is the best coach I’ve had thus far in my career.  He is very intense and demanding but that’s how he gets the best out of his players.  What I learned most from Dave is how hard you have to work and that what separates pro players from junior players is the little things and paying attention to detail.  He deserves a lot of credit for the player I am now, so does new coach James Boyd.”

What has it been like playing in Mississauga?
“Playing in Mississauga has been great.  I’ve enjoyed the city, there’s lots to do there and the fans are starting to show up.  The guys on the team are great and we’re really close and my billets have been great and helped my transition from London to Mississauga go smoothly.”

What was your day like when you found out the Sharks had drafted you at this year’s NHL Entry Draft?
“It was a very stressful day.  I didn’t go down to Minnesota so I stayed home and was watching on the computer and I just wanted to get drafted so the pressure would be off, and then I finally got the call from my agent and it was just a big sigh of relief.”

Were you a fan of the Sharks growing up and if so, who was your favorite Sharks player?
“To be honest, I never really followed San Jose until last couple of years when they’ve been going deep into the playoffs, but I like watching Dan Boyle and now, Brent Burns.”

How much did you learn at Sharks Development Camp last month?
“I learned so much, everything from how to workout and treat your body, skating, shooting, stopping on one foot, not crossing over, how defend forwards from the corner, and also San Jose’s systems and how they play the game.”

Did you get a chance to play as yourself in EA Sports’ NHL11 video game and did you agree with the 58-overall rating they gave you?
“Ya I did and no I wasn’t really impressed with the 58 rating but hopefully in the new one I’ll be in the 60’s somewhere.”

What would like to see improved upon for your cyber character in NHL12?
“Basically everything.  I was only 58-overall so I guess there’s nowhere to go but up.”

What do you feel are your strength and weaknesses as a player?
“I believe I do everything well.  I think I see the ice well, make a good first pass and I think I play both ends very well, and can contribute at both ends but most importantly, I keep my game simple.  I can always work on my skating and my shot needs to get better from the point.”

What can Sharks fans expect when the day comes that you take the ice at HP Pavilion?
“Well hopefully I get an opportunity to, but Sharks fans can expect a two-way defenseman that works hard and who is good in his own zone and has some offensive flair.”

“Teal Town Tweet Talk” for week of 8/7/11 – 8/13/11

new2

Sena Acolatse

“Shout out to my boy @wwrenn91. Future SJShark and a gem of a guy! jst joined twitter Don be afraid to follow this cool cat #futurehalloffamer”  {Aug. 12}

Brodie Brazil

“Fun fact for you: #sjsharks top 6 d-men tailed 598 hits last year. This year’s projected 6 had 790 last season.”  {Aug. 8}

Brent Burns

“Haha yes I Suck at planking!! Not my fault! Ask mike p. I can’t do pullups very good either #longarms.. I sk8 better than plank promise!!  {Aug. 12}

Ryane Clowe

“Lost a lot of respect for Stevie Williams after those comments last night.. Sorry Steve but Tiger made your career #showsomeclass”  {Aug. 8}

Logan Couture

“Sorry to my Bay Area followers that support the A’s. For the next 3 days we are enemies, gonna be a tough couple days for you guys! #Jays”  {Aug. 9}

Dylan DeMelo

“Congrats to my boy @Krychs for winning the gold with the under 18 team adda boy”  {Aug. 13}

Curt Gogol

“Almost pissed myself today at the gym when buddy threw two plates on bench press, starred at it for a while then dropped it on his chest!”  {Aug. 9}

Bret Hedican

“Had a great time #PaddleSurfing today for the first time! Wish I had a photo to share! Next time, I’ll take a photo to prove I could stand up!”  {Aug. 12}

Sean Kuraly

“I’ve waited 18 years for this day, gonna leave this mustache for about a month, and hopefully by then, it will be grown in”  {Aug. 9}

James Livingston

“500 followers? I’m flatter…thank you! :)”  {Aug. 13}

Jamie McGinn

“Golf tournament with the two brothers and #fatheroftheyear.. Great day!”  {Aug. 7}

Lee Moffie

“Heading to the dentist for the first time since 2007. My over/under on cavities is 2. #garlichummuslunch”  {Aug. 8}

S.J. Sharkie

“spending the day working on some new outfits for next season. will give you a hint on one of them: snake river canyon. #fb”  {Aug. 9}

Sean Sullivan

“How has the guy from Man Vs Food not had a heart attack yet?”  {Aug. 10}

Tommy Wingels

@Logancouture coming to toronto for a week. anything to do in this city? #notajaysfan”  {Aug. 9}

William Wrenn

“Back in portland, shout out to @tddougherty and @jtspiv for the twitter inspiration #neversaynever”  {Aug. 7}