Youngsters shine at Sharks prospects game

SAP CENTER —Noah Rod is living the dream.

The Sharks’ second-round pick in this year’s draft scored the game-winning goal in the second-annual Sharks prospects scrimmage at the SAP Center on Wednesday night.

Rod’s goal was a gorgeous wraparound past Fredrik Bergvik’s blocker side that put Team White ahead 2-1 over Team Teal.

When asked about the goal, Rod offered simply:

“It’s like a dream.”

Rod, who played with Geneva in Switzerland last year, was picked 53rd overall in the 2014 NHL draft by the Sharks. He also scored a goal in the shootout following the game, which consisted of two 25-minute halves played on a running clock.

It was a loose, casual event that gave the 8,000 fans in attendance the opportunity to see their team’s top prospects.

Despite that, at least one player took it seriously: Matt Nieto, the lone everyday Sharks player from last season to participate in the game.

Said Nieto, who was on Team Teal:

“Even though it’s a scrimmage, you never want to lose, so I thought our team battled back pretty hard, but we couldn’t get the win.”

Nieto is just 21, but with this young of group prospects and given his full year of NHL experience, he was considered a veteran. He says he embraces the leadership role:

“It doesn’t matter how old you are to be a leader. You don’t have to be that vocal. You can lead by example.”

The game’s first goal was scored by Jake Jackson, who put the puck into a gaping net after it took an opportune bounce off the back boards from a shot by Randy Gazolla.

Chris Crane equalized for Team Teal in the second half, forcing the puck past goaltender Matt Skoff when it caromed in front after Team Teal pressured on the rush.

Crane — who played for the now-defunct San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL last season — has been at the Sharks’ development camp for the past five years, and he says it has helped him build relationships with players from all around the world.

Another prospect who shined was goaltender J.P. Anderson, who stopped all 10 shots he saw during the first half of action for Team Teal. Anderson also played for the Bulls last season before moving on to Ontario and Worcester.

Like Nieto, the 22-year-old Anderson is also taking on the role of a leader during this development camp:

“The first time you come here, you feel like a deer in the headlights. It’s my third time, so it’s more comfortable, so I just try and be a leader and help out the young guys if they have any questions.”

Notes

Also participating in the game were Mirco Mueller, Eriah Hayes, and Freddie Hamilton. Mueller, considered one of the top defensive prospects in the league, is expected to join the Sharks next season. Hayes and Hamilton both saw brief playing time with the Sharks last season. … Team White and Team Teal were coached by former Sharks Mike Ricci and Bryan Marchment, respectively. … Tomas Hertl was held back from playing because of a minor knee injury, but he did receive the biggest cheers of the night when he was shown on the jumbotron. …First round draft pick Nikolay Goldobin did not play either, due to injury.