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Keeping up with the Pups: Ferraro, Karlsson continue making strides

Mario Ferraro and Linus Karlsson are seeing an increase in responsibilities with their respective teams.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: Mario Ferraro is interviewed after being selected 49th overall by the San Jose Sharks during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This week’s Keeping up with the Pups is a double stuffed piece, covering two San Jose Sharks prospects: 2017 second-round selection Mario Ferraro, currently with the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) and 2018 third-round selection Linus Karlsson, who is playing abroad in Sweden this season.

Entering his sophomore season with UMass, Ferraro is taking on a leadership role on the squad after being named the captain, so he has to lead by example and follow up a successful freshman season in which he scored 4 goals and compiled 23 points.

Through 12 games, the 20-year-old has 4 points, so he’s off to a slow start offensively. However, on the defensive side, he’s helping keep the team’s opponents off the scoresheet. Though UMass is in the middle of the pack when it come to Shots on Goal Against, they’re in the top three when it comes to Goals Against. UMass has surrendered just 22 goals so far this season, average less than 2 goals per game allowed. Only Brown and Yale have given up fewer goals.

As of now, Ferraro isn’t chipping in offensively, but it’s only a matter of time before he does. The UMass power play unit is converting their opportunities at a 33 percent rate, giving Ferraro opportunity to light the lamp with an effective man-advantage.

Ferraro’s UMass is one of the top teams in college hockey, ranked third in the country in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll. Ferraro will be a vital piece for a UMass team that’s looking like they’re one of the top contenders for their first Hockey East crown and want a spot in the Frozen Four.

In Sweden, Linus Karlsson is currently having a solid start to his campaign with Karlskrona HK. In his draft year, Karlsson appeared in only 13 games with Karlskrona, tallying just 1 assist. He spent much of that year instead with Karlskrona HK J20, where he scored 27 goals and totaled 52 points.

With Karlskrona HK being relegated from the Swedish Hockey League to HockeyAllsvenskan, Karlsson is getting an opportunity to play more. So far, the 19-year-old has appeared in 23 games for Karlskrona HK where he’s scored 3 goals and registered 10 points.

Aside from receiving a more prominent role from Karlskrona HK, Karlsson also appeared in three matches for the Swedish U20 Nation Team and could get the call to represent his country in a few weeks at the World Juniors in Vancouver.

Both of these prospects are finding their way into significant roles with their respective teams. In the case of Ferraro, it’s becoming a leader on a team with high expectations. For Karlsson, it’s getting more minutes on a first-team squad playing against men as he continues to develop in Sweden.