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“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – J.P. Anderson

Photo courtesy of Alex Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On Sept. 21, 2010, San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced the Sharks had signed unrestricted free agent goalie J.P. Anderson to an entry-level contract.

“We really like what J.P. has shown us and think he has tremendous upside,” said Wilson in a press release on the Sharks website.  “We like that he will continue to develop under Mississauga General Manager/Head Coach Dave Cameron and we will be monitoring his progress.”

Born in Toronto, Ont., Anderson was selected by the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in the second round {30th overall} of the 2008 Ontario Hockey League {OHL} Priority Selection after having a solid season with the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Hockey League {GTHL}.  In 19 games played with the Marlboros, Anderson allowed only 23 goals for a 1.21 goals-against average and recorded seven shutouts.

“I had a good idea that I’d probably make the team if I worked hard,” said Anderson in an interview with Gary McCarthy for an Oct. 2008 mississauga.com article.  “They {majors} told me there was a position open and they didn’t have a lot in their system.  They told me to come to camp ready to play.”

Only 16-years old at the start of the 2008-09 OHL season, Anderson was expected to backup and take the load off of starting goaltender Chris Carrozzi, who appeared in 47 of the Majors’ 68 games in 2007-08.  What Anderson didn’t expect was that he would be playing in the Majors’ first three games.

“I guess starting the first game was a given because Chris was still at the NHL Training Camp,” said Anderson in the McCarthy article.

Anderson made his OHL debut on Sept 18, 2008, in a 3-1 loss to the Barrie Colts.  Carrozzi, back from NHL Training Camp, was in net for the Majors’ second game against the Peterborough Petes and was pulled after allowing three first period goals.  Anderson took over in net at the start of the second period and allowed one goal as the Majors fought back for a 7-4 win.  The next night, Anderson was back in net and went the distance in a 6-4 win over the Kingston Frontenacs in Kingston.

“I think it’s what I expected it to be,” said Anderson, referring to the jump from minor midget to major junior hockey, in the McCarthy article.  “The game is faster, the players are bigger and stronger and they seem to see things better.”

Appearing in 26 games as a rookie, Anderson posted a 12-12 record with a 2.94 goals-against average.  In 1409 minutes played, Anderson allowed 69 goals on 720 shots for a .904 save percentage.  Anderson’s 2.94 goals-against average was the best amongst OHL rookies, earning him the OHL “Dinty Moore Trophy” and OHL All-Rookie First Team selection honors.  In addition, Anderson helped lead Team Ontario to its second consecutive gold medal at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and was named the game’s most valuable player.

For the 2009-10 season, Anderson continued to split time with Carrozzi, appearing in 36 games and registering a 23-10-1 record with a 2.60 goals-against average.  In 2028 minutes played, Anderson allowed 88 goals on 875 shots for a .899 save percentage.  When combined with Carrozzi’s stats, the duo had the lowest team goals-against average in club history and were named the “Dave Pinkney Trophy” winners for allowing the fewest goals {175} in the OHL during the regular season.  In the playoffs, Anderson, registered a 4-5-1 record with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

With two solid OHL seasons under his belt, Anderson set his sights on the 2010 National Hockey League {NHL} Entry Draft.  Unfortunately for Anderson, he was bypassed to the bewilderment of NHL Central Scouting’s goaltending scout Al Jensen.

“I’m not really sure on that at all,” said Jensen, referring to how Anderson went undrafted, in an interview for a May 2011 foxnews.com article.  “I know watching J.P. for three years what type of goalie he is.  Even from his underage year he was a guy I was going to keep an eye on.  Last year {2010} we had him ranked as a possible prospect to watch for the Draft.  I thought at times he was inconsistent, but overall I still liked the way he played.  I just like the way he covered the net.”

So did the Sharks as within an hour of the NHL Draft concluding, the Sharks contacted Anderson’s agent.

“I though they {Sharks} might take me in the draft,” said Anderson in an interview for an April 2011 Canadian Press article.  “They interviewed me before the draft.  They were interested but I guess they wanted to save their pick from someone else.”

The Sharks invited Anderson to their prospect camp in Penticton, B.C., and told Anderson he was there to earn a contract and he would play in two of the Sharks’ three games at the 2010 Young Stars Tournament. 

“I didn’t expect a whole lot because 90 percent of the guys get sent back empty-handed,” said Anderson in the Canadian Press article.  “But I went into it open-minded and with a view to next year.”

Playing in the first game against Anaheim and the third game against Edmonton, Anderson won both games, posting a 2.00 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.  As a result of his performance, Anderson earned his entry-level contract with the Sharks.

At the conclusion of Sharks prospect camp, Anderson returned to Mississauga for the 2010-11 season with a new found confidence and was named the No. 1 goalie due to Carrozzi graduating to professional hockey.

“I didn’t have to worry about coming into this year about getting drafted or trying to impress scouts or things of that nature,” said Anderson in the foxsnews.com article.  “I just wanted to come into games and focus on my game.”

Focus is exactly what Anderson did as he had 16 wins in his first 18 starts by the end of Nov., was named the Canadian Hockey League’s {CHL} “Goaltender of the Week” for the week of Nov. 1-7 and was one of four goalies invited to Team Canada’s evaluation camp for the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

Despite then Majors head coach Dave Cameron being the head coach of Team Canada, Anderson got an early morning phone call informing him that he had been cut from the roster and was returned to the Majors, while Niagara IceDogs goalie Mark Visentin got the nod over Anderson.

“His play got him there and his play took him out of there,” said coach Cameron of Anderson in an interview with Terry Koshan for a May torontosun.com article.  “He’s a mature kid.  His play talks for him.”

Anderson held no hard feelings towards his coach as he agreed he didn’t deserve to make the Canadian world junior team.  “It was a fair opportunity between four guys, and I was just not good enough,” said Anderson in the Koshan article.

On the weekend Visentin and the IceDogs were to play Anderson and the Majors in a showdown between the two goalies, Anderson wasn’t available as he had been called up by the Sharks on an emergency basis for a Jan. 22 game in Minnesota against the Minnesota Wild.

“It was just one of those things that happens,” said coach Cameron in an interview with Roger Lajoie for a Jan. 25 torontosun.com article.  “I watched the Sharks game and saw they had a young call-up and didn’t think anything of it really.  The next day, I get a call and it’s the Sharks telling me they wanted J.P.  What a great opportunity it was for him, although it was really unexpected.”

“I got a text from the coach {Cameron} to call him as soon as possible,” said Anderson in the Canadian Press article.  “I thought ‘I hope I’m not in trouble.’  He explained the situation to me.  I called my mom a couple of hours later, I was on a plane to Minneapolis.”

Once back from his stint with the Sharks, which lasted five days, Anderson won his second CHL “Goaltender of the Week” honor of the season for the week of Jan. 24-30 and was named OHL “Goalie of the Month” for the month of Jan. as he registered a 6-1 record with a goals-against average of 1.30 and a save percentage of .941, both league bests.

As the season wore on, Anderson, who was named to the OHL All-Star Second Team, continued to get stronger as he was named OHL “Player of the Week” for the week ending March 6 as the result of winning all three of his games that weekend, two by shutout. 

In addition, Anderson, along with backup goalie Mikael Audette, helped the Majors secure their second consecutive “Dave Pinkney Trophy” award as the tandem allowed only 170 goals, the league’s fewest since the London Knights allowed 125 in the 2004-05 season.

Anderson finished the regular season with a 38-10-1 record in 51 games played.  Anderson’s goals-against average of 2.36 and six shutouts were league bests while his .911 save percentage was fifth best.

Playing the Belleville Bulls in the first round of the OHL Playoffs, Anderson set two OHL modern-era records when he shutout the Bulls in three consecutive games and established a league playoff mark by going 249 minutes, 11 seconds without allowing a goal {Austen Brassard scored the only Belleville goal in the series on Anderson in Game 1 at 4:13 of the first period}.  Ray Emery held the previous record of 155 minutes, 21 seconds without giving up a goal when he played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2000.

“A lot of credit has to go to the guys in front of me,” said Anderson, who stopped 77-of-78 Bulls shots in the Majors four-game sweep of the Bulls, in an interview with Torstar Network for an April mississauga.com article.  “They’re doing a really good job….doing the dirty work, blocking shots, winning battles.  As long as they continue to do that they make my job easier and gives us a better chance to win as a team.”

Anderson was recognized for his hard work when he won his third CHL “Goaltender of the Week” honor of the season for the week ending March 27 after posting a 3-0 record with two shutous, a .033 goals-against average and a .983 save percentage.  In addition, Anderson was named OHL “Goaltender of the Month” for March after posting a 10-0-0-0 record with five shutouts, a .090 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage. 

“I can’t tell you how many times he’s saved my butt when I make a mistake,” said Majors defenseman Brett Flemming of Anderson in the Torstar Network article.  “To know that he’s back there gives you confidence and all the guys on the team will tell you the same thing.”

“He’s very competitive obviously, but he’s always 100 percent focused and he always keeps his emotions under control,” said Majors’ goaltending coach Jon Elkin of Anderson in the Canadian Press article.  “There are times when the importance of a situation brings out the most in someone but he’s pretty steady.”

Sweeping the Sudbury Wolves in the semi-finals and defeating the IceDogs in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Majors reached the OHL Championship Finals, where they met the Owen Sound Attack.  Despite having a 3-2 series lead, the Majors were defeated by the Attack in a thrilling seven game series.  Anderson finished the OHL Playoffs with a 15-5 record with four shutouts to go along with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

With an automatic entry into the 2011 Memorial Cup as the tournament host, the Majors faced off with the Attack, the Kootenay Ice {Western Hockey League champions} and the Saint John Sea Dogs {Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions} in the round-robin tournament to determine the champion of the CHL.

After losing their first game to the Sea Dogs, 4-3, the Majors won their next three game to reach the Memorial Cup Finals, where they were defeated by the Sea Dogs again, this time by the score of 3-1.  For the tournament, Anderson registered a 3-2 record with a 2.02 goals-against average with a .929 save percentage.

To add insult to injury, Anderson, for all he accomplished during the 2010-11 season, was not voted the top goaltender in the OHL as he finished second in the balloting to Visentin.

At the Majors’ season ending banquet on June 18, Anderson was the recipient of the Father Daniel Zorzi Award, which according to the Majors’ website, is the most prestigious award someone can achieve.

Named after Father Zorzi {1960-2009}, who was President of St. Michael’s College School, the award is presented to the Majors player who “best displays goodness, discipline and knowledge on and off the ice; gives back to his team and will do anything for his teammates; works hard both on and off the ice and contributes to the Mississauga community.”

Expected to return to the Majors for the 2011-12 season, Anderson will continue to show that he thrives under pressure

“I don’t try to change anything,” said Anderson in the Canadian Press article.  “I try to keep everything the same and not over-react.  But I think some excitement naturally takes over and it elevates you.  Anyone who competes in sports wants to play in the big game, the big moment, whether it’s a goal medal game, the playoffs or Game 7 of the final.  You want that opportunity.”

HIGHLIGHTS

J.P Anderson 2010-11 home opener  {Courtesy of YouTube user “chadh999”}
Highlights of the Majors’ 2010-11 home opener against the Windsor Spitfires

J.P. Anderson vs. Brandon Foote  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Anderson drops the gloves for a goalie fight against Foote Guelph Storm on Dec. 5, 2010.

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.cbc.ca, www.mississauga.com, www.hockeydb.com, www.hockeysfuture.com, www.torontosun.com, www.ontariohockeyleague.com, www.foxnews.com, www.stmichaelsmajors.com, www.eliteprospects.com, www.insidetoronto.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

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“Teal Town Tweet Talk” for week of 7/3/11 – 7/9/11

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Before I begin this week’s installment of “Teal Town Tweet Talk,” I would like to welcome the two newest residents of “Teal Town” in San Jose Sharks‘ 2011 draftees Dylan Demelo and Justin Sefton.

Sena Acolatse

“#870. If one of your friends disappears off the face of the planet, check to see if they changed their relationship status. #brotips”  {July 6}

Jamie Baker

“Wholly big trade before the 4th – didn’t see this one coming – no rest for DW. Heater is a great guy and I wish him luck in Minny w Seto.”  {July 3}

Brodie Brazil

“Best wishes to Heater in minny, was always a good dude to me. Considering cap space, not shocked by this trade. Bodes well for #sjsharks”  {July 3}

Ryane Clowe

“Want to send my best to a great teammate and friend Dany Heatley. Had a blast playing with you.”  {July 4}

Logan Couture

“For everyone asking, Heater was always a great pro and a tremendous teammate. Learned a lot from him. He will be missed but excited to get a fantastic hockey player in Martin Havlat! Is the season starting soon? #imisshockey”  {July 4}

Dan DaSilva

“Ok my fiance is trying to win a competition. Go to simple sentiments event design’s facebook page and ‘like’ chelsey lynn’s story. Thank you”  {July 6}

Dylan Demelo

“can’t believe i got twitter @alexluceno”  {July 3}

Carter Hutton

“Homerun for your 3000 hit! what a way to do it #jeter”  {July 9}

James Marcou

“Nothing like sitting in the third row at a movie #boxseats #NOT”  {July 8}

Jamie McGinn

“Congrats to my bro Tye for signing with Philly! #hardworkpaysoff”  {July 7}

Justin Sefton

“Another early morning at the rink #whateverittakes”  {July 5}

SJ Sharkie

“I’m locked up until retirement. San Jose is my home! ‘@JeffreyBenford: Hey @sjsharkie please tell me YOU have a no-trade clause’ ”  {July 3}

Sean Sullivan

“How am I supposed to go workout when its such great napping weather?  {July 8}

Tommy Wingels

“congrats Jeff Blashill on becoming assistant coach of the Red Wings.”  {July 8}

“Teal Town Tweet Talk” for week of 6/26/11 – 7/2/11

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Before I begin this installment of “Teal Town Tweet Talk,” I would like to welcome the two newest residents of “Teal Town” in defenseman Jim Vandermeer and forward Martin Havlat.  Vandermeer, who played for the Edmonton Oilers last season, was signed by the San Jose Sharks Friday morning during the opening hours of NHL Free Agency and Havlat acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild tonight in exchange for forward Dany Heatley.

Sena Acolatse

“Hot yoga is not a joke. Hardest thing ever. #sweatbuckets. Now time to hit up the beach and play some tennis.”  {June 30}

Jamie Baker

“July 1st is Canada Day EH! Go Canada. It’s also free agent day for the NHL. The countdown is on to see who pays what for who!!!!!”  {June 30}

Brodie Brazil

“According to @usatoday, 13% of Californians own an #nhl sweater, only 4% of San Franciscans do.”  {June 30}

Ryane Clowe

“Now that I try to stay up to watch my SFGiants play I understand why everyone back home complains about our late games during the season.”  {June 29}

Logan Couture

“Making my return to the ice today to fire some pucks around. Amazing how quick you lose it in this game. See how the hands feel..#notsmooth”  {June 27}

Dan DaSilva

“Beautiful day in the stoon. Just finished some work in the basement. Chillin then swimmin with the boys from NLT later”  {June 28}

Carter Hutton

@BLootie10 Wait til we play for money, I cant show you all my game just yet #hustle”  {June 27}

James Marcou

“I think @TSNBobMcKenzie broke the record for most tweets in one day #nhl”  {July 1}

Jamie McGinn

“Glad to still be a Shark! I already know this is @logancouture happiest moment.. Thx for all the support from my fans! #bromancecontinues…”  {June 30}

SJ Sharkie

“Heading to the hospital today to visit a little girl fighting a fight no one should have to. #fb”  {June 30}

Sean Sullivan

“Unreal Dispatch concert last night now heading out on the boat to throw @coreycgriffin over board.”  {June 26}

Jim Vandermeer

“Sad to leave Oil City, but really excited to be a Shark… Thanks Sharks fans will be a blast!!!!”  {July 1}

“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.*