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Sharks Have Playoff Ambitions as Season Begins

Friday, October 19, 2012

 

Captain John McCarthy skates onto the ice.

The Worcester Sharks' 2012-2013 season has begun, with opening night at the DCU Center slated for Saturday against the Albany Devils.

The Sharks are coming off a bit of a disappointing run during the 2011-2012 season, only garnering 74 points with a final record of 31-33-12; good for last place in the Atlantic Division and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. This was the second straight season the Sharks missed the playoffs, following two straight seasons of reaching the Atlantic Division Finals.

But veteran Head Coach Roy Sommer is confident he'll see major improvements this season.

"I think a lot of our second year guys got a lot of valuable experience last year. This year is going be better," Sommer said. "Hopefully, last year left a bitter taste in their mouth."

Roy Sommer is entering his 15th season as Head Coach of the San Jose Sharks' American Hockey League Affiliate.  He is currently the longest-tenured coach in the AHL, and last year became the fourth coach in AHL history to reach 500 career wins.

"I think we should be pretty good, " added Sommer, speaking of the expectations he has for his team. "We've got three lines that can score, and toughness and size that can move the puck. "

Sommer added that he expects there to be five or six twenty goal scorers on the team, as opposed to only one last year, if all goes well.

Newly crowned Team Captain Left Winger John McCarthy agrees with his coach about the positive outlook for this season, despite missing the playoffs the last two years.

"Our goal is to make the playoffs," McCarthy said. "We added more scoring in the off-season and we're more well-rounded."

Also like his coach, McCarthy speaks of the importance of experience to the team's potential success.

"We've got a lot of veterans on the team, only six rookies this year, and a good amount of potential team leaders."

In speaking of his own unique role as Captain, McCarthy adds, "I have a responsibility to set a good example and help transition the rookies," but he reiterates, "this is the job of all the veterans, to take a leadership role."

John McCarthy is coming off a career season. The 26 year old was named the team MVP, leading the team in goals (20) and points (47) in 65 games. A former member of Boston University's acclaimed hockey program, he is entering his 4th season in the AHL as a member of the Worcester Sharks.

The AHL is largely unpredictable, given the fact that the many talented players are often called up to their various NHL affiliates. This can quickly change the outlook, dynamic, and potential for success for a given team.

Coach Sommer says you cannot worry about this scenario when planning.

"You just got to adjust. Move a 2nd liner to the first line, move a third liner to the second line. Guys have to move to a bigger role. More guys get a chance."

However, this is made even more complicated by the NHL lockout. Many more experienced veterans and players that would perhaps be playing in the NHL without the lockout are now members of AHL teams. There is no telling what will happen when the NHL returns.

Sommer is not worried about this eventuality at the moment.

"Right now, it's nice that we don't have to worry about guys getting called up. It beefs up competition."

"We can't let it affect us, " says McCarthy speaking of the lockout, but for now, "there certainly will be a lot more talent in the AHL. It should be exciting."

John McCarthy himself is a man with NHL promise. He made his NHL debut during the 2009-2010 season. Last season, he played ten games with San Jose.

Speaking from the players perspective on the possibility of getting called up, McCarthy agrees you can't think about it and you especially can't let it distract you from your duties to your current team.

"You hear guys getting frustrated. I just try to play my best hockey no matter where I am. I want to play for a winning team. Winners look better to the NHL teams. I want to play my game and not worry about things out of my control."

The Sharks have already played two games with one more slated before the home opener. In two games against the Norfolk Admirals, Worcester managed one out of a possible four points.

For more information on the Worcester Sharks, click here.

 

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