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Big boys hit the ice
Regulars make their debuts in DeBoer's first practice
9/18/15 - By Mike Lee -

The big boys stepped out onto the ice this morning as regular rostered players practiced for the first time this season at Sharks Ice in San Jose. The likes of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture all ran through drills for the first time under new head coach Peter DeBoer, in 60 minute practices. The 50 some odd players were split into two groups, which Group A hitting the ice at 9:30 Friday morning. Group B ran through identical drills at 11:45.

Nestled on the 10th street in downtown San Jose, Sharks Ice came to life with players running through a number of conditioning and positioning drills as DeBoer and his staff led the charge.

A crowd of about 50 fans watched the practices from the frigid stands, which is a contrast of prior training camps which have been standing room only affairs. The fact that camp started on a Friday may have had something to do with attendance, so Saturday and Sunday's practices should be a better barometer of fan interest in the Sharks 25th campaign.

DeBoer set offensive lines and defensive pairings for the practices, which pegged the following alignments for the morning session:

Line 1 (white sweaters) - Hertl, Thornton, Pavelski

Line 2 (teal sweaters) - Nieto, Tierney ¸Wingels

Line 3 (yellow sweaters) - Sadowy, Brown, McCarthy

Line 4 (orange sweaters) - Donskoi, Carpenter, Meier

Defensive Pairings: Burns/Martin, Cundari/Ryan, Mueller/Tennyson, Roy/McNally

Goaltenders - Jones, Dell

Group B alignments in the second practice were as follows:

Line 1 (white sweaters) - Couture, Marleau, Ward

Line 2 (teal sweaters) - Torres, Smith, Goldobin

Line 3 (yellow sweaters) - McLaren, Haley, Helewka, Emanuelsson

Line 4 (orange sweaters) - Chartier, Langlois, Goodrow

Defensive Pairings: Vlasic/Braun, Dillon/DeMelo, Stollery/Young, Bergman/Roy

Goaltenders - Stalock, Grosenick

DeBoer's first practice emphasized positioning, with several drills that called for players to stop in their tracks as on-ice coaches repositioned players. The Sharks also spent a deal of time focusing on odd-man rushes, both on the offensive and defensive side of the puck.

Tomas Hertl had some skate issues, which resulted in him tripping all over the ice during scrimmage drills, forcing him to get some attention from the equipment staff. Hertl had better step things up if he wants to remain on what amounts to the Sharks top line. THe winger wasn't exactly lights out in his first crack at the opportunity. His sophomore season was a big disappointment from his injury shortened debut in 2013-14.

Logan Couture unleashed a series of wicked wrist shots which seem head and shoulders better then anyone else on the ice. The Sharks forward arrived in great shape and looks primed for a big season. He was one of the most vocal players following the Sharks dismal performance last season.

The Martin Jones era got off the a decent start with the Sharks netminder anchoring the net in the early session. The goaltender is a taller, more slender backstop than what the Sharks were used to in his predecessor Antti Niemi. Jones looked solid in his first look in the crease, and had plenty of fun with his new teammates who jeered him every time a puck found its way past him.

Raffi Torres made his return to the ice in the Group B session, and looked good. He took a fair amount of time to get loose after stepping on the ice, skating gingerly around the full length of the rink while his teammates kept a brisker pace in their half-rink warm-up laps. Torres is returning from a knee injury that cost him a big chunk on the 2013-14 season and all of last year's campaign.

The forward seem to skate with some hesitation throughout the practice, never really ramping up to 100%.

New acquisition Paul Martin skated along side Brent Burns in the early session, and looked solid in his first practice as a Shark blueliner. Joel Ward skated on a line with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture. It will likely take some time for Ward to establish some chemistry with his new linemates, who are both arguably better skater than the new Sharks winger.

Prospects Nikolay Goldobin helped his cause with an impressive first practice. The young Russian was eager to go to the net, sticking his nose in unpleasant places to get the puck on net when called on. Timo Meier on the other hand had a completey different experience. The Sharks 1st round pick this past June looked lost out on the ice, and struggled to establish any flow to his game.

On the North Rink, Barracudas head coach Roy Sommer held a smaller work out for several of the Sharks prospects that are likely to start the season with San Jose's minor league affilate. Sommer was assisted by for Sharks players and now development advisors Mike Ricci and Evgeni Nabokov.

Melker Karlsson did not skate.

For those planning on attending a training camp session this weekend, it's advised that you arrive well before the scheduled start, as weekend practices tend to fill up and seating is limited.


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