As part of the NHL’s Global Series, the San Jose Sharks finished the preseason on the road in Berlin with a 3-1 win over Eisbären Berlin.
The game went scoreless through the first period and a half due to strong performances from goaltenders James Riemer and Tobias Ancicka. Around halfway through the game, both goaltenders were replaced by their respective back-ups, with Kaapo Kahkonen swapping in for the Sharks and Juho Markkanen for Eisbären.
Though Eisbären opened scoring just 45 seconds after Kahkonen took over in net, the Sharks were able to take control of the game in quick fashion. Tomas Hertl scored off of a feed from Timo Meier in front of the net to tie the game at one goal apiece. Only 40 seconds later, Steven Lorentz put the Sharks up by one after tipping in a shot from Erik Karlsson. The go-ahead goal came from Luke Kunin, who scored shorthanded around halfway through the third period.
Following the win, head coach David Quinn, as well as Hertl, Meier and Lorentz spoke to the media about overall impressions of the game, being welcomed by the European crowd and the Sharks’ preseason as a whole.
Here are the highlights from what they had to say:
On impressions of the game: I liked how we persevered. We got out to a shaky start, they came out hard and made life difficult for us in the first five minutes — I thought it was a period where we got better and better. Second period, we got chances and just weren’t able to capitalize off of them. They score and make it 1-0, it can be made difficult in those situations; that was really our first test of adversity all “year,” and I liked how we responded. They competed incredibly hard, it was a challenging night for us.
On special teams: I liked our penalty kill. Our power play was pretty good early, and then we had the 5-on-3 — I don’t think we were very opportunistic there, nor had much flow there. We’ve got to be better in those situations. We all know how important 5-on-3 is, you have to take advantage of those opportunities — a little disappointing we didn’t, but we got better at it.
On experiencing the European fans: I got my first taste of fan participation when I went to the soccer match on Sunday. People are very passionate about the sports here, it was a lot of fun for our players and for me to play in that type of environment. I feel really bad for Nico, would have been nice for him to play — he actually got excited when I told him he was going to read the line-up, so I can’t imagine how excited he would have been if he was actually able to play — but unfortunately for him and us, he wasn’t able to. You can see why this franchise has been successful, and they will be for a long time.
On impressions of the game: We knew it would not be easy and they would come hard. For a lot of guys, they’ve probably never played on big ice like this, so it was a little new. We were still confident because we’ve had a pretty good preseason so far — 4-1 so far — so we knew we could come back. It was a quick answer and it helped us to get the win. I don’t think we panicked, we just played our hockey and scored two quick goals.
On their preseason: It was really quick — I don’t think we’ve ever had one this fast. We barely practiced — just one practice and one game with a full team. We have one more practice before Prague, but I think we’re ready. Can’t wait for the opener in Prague on Friday, it’ll be a tough game against Nashville.
On Luke Kunin: I really like him. He’s fast, he’s aggressive, he works hard every shift. He gets a lot of pucks for us and I told him, “Me and Timo will try to hold the puck and make a play,” and he gets open for us. He had a really strong preseason. I didn’t really know what to expect from him, but it’s a lot of fun playing with him, so hopefully we keep that good connection on Friday and score some goals too. I really liked playing the last couple of games with him.
On ending the Berlin trip with a win: We knew we wanted to feel good. It was tough to lose the last game (in Anaheim) and I think winning has given us confidence. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, the games are still important.
On impressions of the game: It was fun playing close to home. In the beginning, we didn’t start the way we wanted to, but I think overall it was a great experience, great crowd. We won the game, so it was overall a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it.
On experiencing the European fans: It’s definitely special. We knew there were a lot of people from Europe who came to support us, and that’s awesome to see. Like [Lorentz] mentioned, just to see different jerseys in the stands and the support we have over here, it’s awesome. We always try to promote the game, and this is a great thing.
On impressions of the Europe trip: It’s been great. I’ve mentioned that this is my first time over in Europe — starting with the soccer game on the first day, all the way up until today, it was great to see the passion and excitement from all kinds of different sports fans wearing Sharks jerseys and jerseys from the hometown team. It’s been awesome, it’s been great. Even just at the end there, getting to know some of the guys and taking that group photo, it was pretty cool to be part of all of this. All in all, it’s been a great experience, and we’re excited to keep it going.
On experiencing the European fans: It’s obviously very different — the chanting and the jumping around and the drums and stuff they have going on during the play, it’s pretty cool. There were a couple of times where I would just sit on the bench and kind of got lost in it, just enjoyed the passion they were showing for their home team. It’s pretty cool to see that they’re not just happy to be at the game, they’re really engaged. I think their team can feed off of that all season long. It was great to see the passion and the excitement in the fans.
*Lightly edited for clarity.