April 22, 2016 By Paul Gackle

Rink Notes: Sharks’ Goldobin Completes Rookie Season With Barracuda on a High Note

SAN JOSE — After doing things the Nikolay Goldobin way throughout the first half of the season, the Barracuda’s rookie of the year started listening to advice down the stretch.

Unsurprisingly, his newfound open-mindedness paid off.

Goldobin finished the 2015-16 season on an absolute tear, collecting 16 points (11g, 5a) in his last 17 games, finishing the campaign tied for first on the team in goals (21) and fourth in points (44). The Barracuda are hoping his scoring touch carries over into their first-round Calder Cup playoff series with the Ontario Reign, which kicks off with Game 1 at the SAP Center on Friday.

“He came in and figured he’d tear up this league,” captain Bryan Lerg said.

“He just needed a little guidance. Now, he’s learned that, so you can see his game’s progressed throughout the second half. He’s going to be a key player for us.”

The Sharks 2014 first-round draft pick carried himself with a bit of a swagger early in the season after getting called up to play nine games in the NHL during the first two months of the season.

But after returning from a six-game road trip on Nov. 22, Goldobin was reassigned to the Barracuda, where he spent the rest of the season.

The low point of Goldobin’s rookie campaign came in the middle of the winter when he went 19-consecutive games without scoring a goal from Jan 10 to Feb. 27. But he snapped out of his scoring funk on March 1 by lighting the lamp twice against the Stockton Heat, and stayed hot down the stretch, racking up 11 goals in the Barracuda’s last 17 games.

Lerg said as the season progressed, Goldobin took the team’s coaches and veterans’ advice, playing a more simplified style of game than he was used to.

“He had to learn to pick and choose the right times to be flashy and when to keep it simple,” Lerg said.

Head coach Roy Sommer agreed that Goldobin had a “learning curve to get over.”

“He’s a super-talented kid and I think he thought things would be easy,” he said. “He’s better at both ends of the ice than he had been. He’s still a minus (minus-nine), so that’s still a part of his game he’s got to work on. But on the PP, in open ice, when he’s got the puck, he’s as dynamic a player as there is in our league.”

Goldobin also benefited from playing on a line with Jeremy Langlois and Jeremy Morin down the stretch. Earlier in the season, Sommer struggled to find the right combination of players to compliment Goldobin’s high-end skill. Eventually, he discovered that Langlois’ speed creates space for Goldobin play-making ability and Morin is willing to do the dirty work, digging pucks out of corners and going to the net.

The 21-year-old forward said the biggest lesson he learned this season is that “every game counts”.

“You have to get every point because we got in in the last game,” he said. “If we lost, we’re going home, so you need to get every point.”

Blue Line Battle: Sommer will be left with a gaping hole to fill on his blue line when Matt Tennyson returns to the Sharks after Game 1.

Tennyson will complete his conditioning assignment with the Barracuda in Game 1, so either Patrick McNally or Michael Brodzinski will need to step into the sixth defenseman spot next to Mirco Mueller for the remainder of the series.

After an impressive debut with the Barracuda on March 26, Brodzinski has struggled to make the adjustment from NCAA hockey to the AHL, posting a minus-11 rating in his last five games.

McNally is a plus-nine on the season, but he’s failed to earn Sommer’s trust, suiting up for only 35 games after being acquired in a draft day trade with the Vancouver Canucks over the summer.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Sommer said when asked if he’s leaning toward McNally or Brodzinski. “Hey, playoffs is day to day.”

Man of the Year: Ryan Carpenter is truly a leader on and off the ice.

Carpenter led the Barracuda in scoring this season with 55 points in 66 games and he won the AHL’s Yanick Dupre Memorial award his “outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations.”

When he isn’t grinding away at the rink, Carpenter is teaching math in local schools as part of the Barracuda Math Program, helping run practices with the Jr. Sharks and making visits to local hospitals, providing cheer for sick kids.

“It is something I like to do with my time,” Carpenter said, referring to his charitable work. “My wife and I, it’s a big part of our life, what Christ has done for us, and we want to help other people as much as we can.”

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