Jr. Sharks Alumni Find Success at NCAA Level
SAN JOSE, California – In another sign of continued growth and development of junior hockey in the Bay Area, six former San Jose Jr. Sharks representing four different collegiate teams participated in the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.
One of the players - 21-year old Western Michigan defenseman Matt Tennyson of Pleasanton, Calif. - recently inked an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks, becoming the first Jr. Sharks player to graduate to its NHL parent club. A 6-2, 215-pound offensive defenseman, Tennyson was third in scoring for the Broncos with 11 goals, eight of which came on the power play. Tennyson scored 54 points (22-32=54) in 117 games in his time at Western Michigan and led them to a CCHA title and NCAA First Round appearance this season. Tennyson last played for the Jr. Sharks in 06-07 for the 16 AAA team before moving to the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
Adam McKenzie, formerly of the 2007-08 18 AAA Jr. Sharks and tendered by the NAHL’s Wenatchee Wild also reached the first round of the NCAA tournament with Air Force. In his freshman season as a Falcon, he posted two goals and 16 assists for 18 points and finished plus-seven. With the Wild, he played in 56 regular-season games and ranked eighth in the NAHL in points by a defenseman with 31 points on nine goals and 22 assists.
Miami University - Ohio players Bryon Paulazzo and Ben Paulides also reached the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Jake Suter and the UMass-Lowell River Hawks. Paulozzo, a 1989-born forward, last played 18 AAA for the Jr. Sharks in 06-07 and played for the Topeka Roadrunners before moving on to Miami. With the RedHawks this season he had 12 points (6-6=12). Paulides, born in 1991 – the year of the San Jose Sharks debut in the National Hockey League, was drafted by the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms after playing for the 18 AAA Jr. Sharks in 2008-09. He recorded five assists for the RedHawks and was plus-13 on the season.
Suter, son of former NHL defenseman Gary Suter, played at the Squirt level for the Jr. Sharks while his dad was a member of the San Jose Sharks. A freshman this season at UMass-Lowell, Suter helped the River Hawks complete the second largest turnaround in NCAA Division I hockey history with 19 more wins than the previous season, a second-place finish in Hockey East, and a NCAA quarterfinals appearance in the program's first tournament berth since 1996. Suter scored three points and was plus-eight in his NCAA debut season and is a former Defenseman of the Year for the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, by whom he was drafted in the third round, 35th overall, in 2010.
North Dakota’s Dan Senkbeil, born in 1991, won a state championship with the 16 AAA Jr. Sharks and was drafted in the first round – fifth overall – by the Youngstown Phantoms after his 18 AAA season. Senkbeil has also played with the USHL’s Chicago Steel and the NAHL’s Alaska Avalanche. With the Sioux, he posted three assists in 24 games played and helped the team reach the quarterfinals of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I think this is a tremendous story and a great source of pride for everyone in this organization and Northern California hockey,” said San Jose Sharks Assistant General Manager Joe Will. “The level of youth hockey in the Bay Area is improving and the bar will continue to be set higher. People are noticing how many high-caliber hockey players are coming out of California, and that’s a compliment to both the players themselves and the coaches and administrators.”
“The Jr. Sharks have been proactive in quickly adapting USA Hockey’s American Developmental Model along with creating the High Performance track for players in their respective birth years to better develop our player pool and increase the number of players we promote to NCAA hockey, said Jr. Sharks President Tony Zasowski.
“We are rapidly becoming one of the West Coast’s elite AAA clubs as we are consistently producing players for the NAHL and USHL - which are the primary feeders for NCAA Division I Hockey,” added Zasowski. “Our players are exposed to all types of scouts and have every opportunity available to them.”
The San Jose Jr. Sharks originated from the former San Jose Blades hockey club, taking on the Jr. Sharks moniker for the 2000-01season. Since then, the club has produced 18 NCAA Men’s Division I players and four additional players are expected to suit up for their respective colleges for the 2012-13 season. Sharks Ice at San Jose, which is operated by Sharks Sports & Entertainment – the parent company of the San Jose Sharks, is home to the Jr. Sharks and is a state-of-the-art ice sports facility that features four (4) NHL-sized rinks, one of only ten facilities in the U.S. to boast that many, and is the largest skating facility west of the Mississippi River.
For more information about the San Jose Jr. Sharks, please visit www.sjjrsharks.com. For more information about Sharks Ice at San Jose, please visit www.sharksiceatsanjose.com.