Former Shark leading Jr. Sharks to success
December 17, 2013
The San Jose Jr. Sharks were looking good, with one more league showcase remaining, to be a favorite to capture the North American Prospects Hockey League’s 16U regular season title.
That said, they are being chased by some good teams including up-coast rival the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, Colorado’s Pikes Peak Miners and five other teams all within 10 points of the league-leading Jr. Sharks.
At the helm of this 13-2-0 machine in the Bay Area is longtime NHL standout Kyle McLaren. A ninth overall draft pick by the Boston Bruins in 1995, McLaren started his NHL career with the Bruins as an 18-year-old. He made the 1995-96 All-Rookie team before any of his current players were born.
From 2002-08, McLaren spent five seasons with the NHL Sharks, including making the 2003-04 playoff run to the Western Conference final, the farthest any Sharks team had made it to that point.
Now, he wants to help shepherd some of his former spectators to the highest levels of hockey. All but one of the Jr. Sharks are from in or near the Bay Area, and they have been wowing scouts and fans alike all year long.
“I like our record. I think it speaks loudly of how far this organization as a whole has come,” said McLaren. “I still want our team striving to be harder to play against and compete more. My expectations for my team are ones that are hard to meet. Even though I’m pleased with our record, I’m never satisfied and I push these kids to be better hockey players and better people every day.”
Although the Jr. Sharks have been a top five team on the power play and penalty kill, McLaren has especially liked his team at full even strength.
North American Prospects Hockey League“I think our team as a whole has done great at 5-on-5 situations. We have a lot of depth this year and knowing I can throw out any one of them in any situation to get the job done is a great asset,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a goal we need or if we’re protecting a lead.”
Where his team could be better is in physical play, among other areas not related to a line on the score sheet.
“I think our power play still needs a lot of work and being more physical in all areas of play still needs a lot of improvement,” McLaren said. “Our compete level is also one area that has to improve – not taking and shifts off and going after teams wave after wave until the final whistle.”
McLaren sees several of his players having a bright future, with any one being potentially the first former Jr. Sharks 16U player to reach the Division 1 level (though there are some players currently in the NAHL vying for that honor, as well).
Matthew Ebertin leads the Jr. Sharks with 20 points in 15 NAPHL games, while Evan Pace (19 points), Ryan Meure (18) and Lucas Semkiew (14) are also playing especially well.
On the defense, Egan Wolford and Trevor Weinstock have been standouts, while goalies Devon Cooley and Jake Acton also have a lot of potential.
“Those are just a few players – we have many more quality players on our team,” said McLaren.