Previewing the NAPHL: San Jose Jr. Sharks
September 14, 2014
Over the course of the next two weeks, the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) is proud to feature a new series that will preview each of the 32 teams in the NAPHL for the 2014-15 season. Each day, leading all the way up to the first event of the season at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, the league will feature a different organization and take a look at both their 18U and 16U teams. There will be a review of last season and a look ahead to this season, which will include an interview with each of the team’s head coaches.
San Jose Jr. Sharks 16U
The San Jose Jr. Sharks 16U team had a strong 2013-14 season in the NAPHL. They were able to place third in the regular season standings and qualify for the gold division playoffs for the third straight season in a row. They also had one player in Ryan Meure sign a NAHL tender with the Kenai River Brown Bears.
This season head coach John Beaulieu looks to continue the success of the Jr. Sharks program. This will be his first season behind the bench of the 16U Jr. Sharks, but not with the organization. He has coached for multiple seasons at various age levels with the Jr. Sharks.
Coach Beaulieu appears to have a veteran team this season. The roster is made up mainly of 1998 birth year players with a few 1999 birth year players. The Jr. Sharks are also returning three very important players from last year’s team. They return forward Evan Pace, who was fourth on the team in scoring. Evan was able to accumulate 19 points in just 15 games. On defense they return Egan Wolford. Wolford also had a strong offensive season as well. He put up 17 points in 18 games and was very valuable on the power play. In net they return star goalie Jacob Acton. Acton made a name for himself last season. He posted a 9-2 record with a 1.73 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Acton was named to the all NAPHL 3rd team.
Along with the returning players the Jr. Sharks also added a large group of players from last season’s 15AAA team. These players will be counted on to make a successful jump to the next level.
San Jose Jr. Sharks 18U
The San Jose Jr. Sharks will have a new head coach this season at the 18U level. Kyle McLaren will take over the duties after being the head coach of the 16U Sharks team and assistant for the 18U Sharks team last season.
Coach McLaren had a long and successful NHL career that ended with the San Jose Sharks in 2010. He began coaching with the Jr. Sharks organization in 2012. Coach McLaren is looking forward to the 2014-15 season. “This year we have 2 returning players from last years 18U team and a boat load of players from last season’s Jr. Sharks 16U team. It will be an exciting time with a learning curve that only goes with jumping up a level and being a young team,” said McLaren. The two returning players from last year’s 18U team are forward Corey Semmelmeyer and defenseman James Lazette.
Coach McLaren is excited for the challenge of getting his players to the next level of hockey. “My expectation for these kids is always to compete and try to get better each and every game. As a coach my job is to make sure that we are ready to play and give each kid a chance to move on after the year to a higher level,” said McLaren.
Being a west coast team in the NAPHL San Jose is faced with challenges that many other teams in the league don’t face. “It’s always tough travel coming from the west coast, but making sure the team gets adequate rest and prepares the right way is very important to our success,” said McLaren.
The travel might be tough, but coach McLaren knows that it is a must for his team to get the proper exposure. “The NAPHL has given us the launching platform to get these kids to be scouted and looked at. They normally would not get that exposure just playing on the west coast,” said McLaren.