Earlier this month, the San Jose Jr. Sharks Squirt 2007-1 team captured the Silver Stick Championship in Pelham, Ontario, Canada after a 2-0 shutout in the championship game versus the Lincoln Jr. Stars.
It was the first time in 10 years that the Jr. Sharks clinched a title for San Jose at the international tournament and it came with a group of former NHL players, and Sharks alumni, at the helm.
With 2,633 games of combined NHL experience, Curtis Brown, Evgeni Nabokov and Owen Nolan, all decided to return to the game in different roles. But after years of playing in a variety of cities across the United States and Canada, the coaches may have not had the opportunity to celebrate their team’s Silver Stick and NHL jerseys success if it had not been for their ties with their former NHL team.
“If the Sharks didn’t exist, Owen, [Nabokov] and I wouldn’t have been here,” Brown said. “It’s so cool that on this one team, Owen, Nabby and myself get to give back to the game of hockey through these kids and it’s all because of the Sharks.”
It was there that Brown’s sons Gage, Garrett and his “little whipper snapper” Griffin had the unique experience of beginning hockey careers of their own overseas.
“While I was playing in Switzerland, I had the opportunity to get on the ice and do a little coaching,” he said. “That’s where the coaching bug began for me.”
When Brown retired, an opportunity emerged for him to return to the Bay Area. It was also a way for him to continue his coaching career, which had barely begun to blossom.
“I figured an opportunity to give back to youth hockey, an opportunity to get on the ice with my kids and an opportunity to be part of the Sharks were all positives,” Brown said. “So I took a leap of faith.”
Now that decision has left him as an integral part of the Jr. Sharks youth hockey program in San Jose and the reason that Nabokov and Nolan found themselves as part of his coaching staff.
Nolan, who played in the Silver Stick Tournament as a child, began coaching “years before” his first season as a Jr. Sharks coach with his son’s house leagues.
Wilson and his friend, Chad Alexander of Livermore, had their picture taken with the Stanley Cup. They also put on virtual reality headsets and resurfaced ice on a Zamboni. Then they toured the 53-foot museum truck packed with NHL memorabilia and digital exhibits.
Both said seeing the Stanley Cup in person was the highlight.
“Stanley’s always cool,” Wilson said. “This is my third time seeing it in my life. But that Zamboni race was really fun. And all the old gloves and masks and everything in the museum. It was cool. Good stuff.”
Daniel Flores of Hayward had a picture of himself and his two young kids, Jaiden and Deia, taken with the Stanley Cup. He also held a picture of his father, Richard, a Sharks fan since the debut season in 1991-92, next to the Cup.
“My dad’s very upset he couldn’t be here, but he’s very sick,” Flores said. “He’s fighting cancer and has pneumonia and all that. So we took a picture of him and held NHL jerseys from China and the picture up. … We wanted to make sure he was included even though he couldn’t make the trip down.”
Brad Murdock, 19, from San Jose, made sure he didn’t miss getting his picture taken with the Cup. He showed up 90 minutes early and was first in line.
The Stevens Point, Wisconsin, native kicked off the month with the game-winning goal vs. Montreal on December 2. His consistency was shown with points in 10 of the Sharks’ 13 games. He had a five-game point-streak late in the month where he recorded two goals and five assists. He also had three multi-point games during the month.
Established in the 1996-97 season, the Sharks Foundation “Sharks Player of the Month” program honors the Sharks player(s) who have contributed most to the team’s success each month. The Sharks Player of the Month and Year award program has donated more than $300,000 to the Sharks Foundation since the program’s inception.
This is the 7th player of the month recognition for Pavelski.