Finnish goaltender Harri Sateri posts 28-save shutout, Benn Ferriero notches game winner as roster battle intensifies

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

San Jose Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri posts preseason shutout against Phoenix Coyotes

Ryane Clowe net front presence deflection

San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks preseason Brad Winchester Sean Zimmerman

The Sharks are in a different place as an organization from when they had a trio of starting goaltenders vying for one starting job. Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala have moved on to different teams, but there may be another three headed goaltender battle developing if German netminder Thomas Greiss can impress in a back-up role while Antero Niittymaki navigates a three month recovery from surgery. Greiss is going to get the bulk of the preseason workload, but starting goaltender Antti Niemi has recently started taking shots in practice after his minor offseason surgery. He could be ready to go at or near the start of the season according to Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.

The Sharks top AHL development affiliate in Worcester has similar injury adjustments it needs to make for the start of the season. Goaltender Alex Stalock recently skated for the first time since February surgery to repair a severed nerve in his knee. It was reported by the Duluth News Tribune this offseason that his doctors recommended a full year off from on-ice training. That could effectively end or significantly shorten his 2011-12 season. An unorthodox goaltender who battles hard to make saves in net, Stalock lead the entire AHL with 39 wins in 2009-10. Stalock is not just a prospect working his way up through the organization, he is seen a future candidate for the starting role. Forefront in the Sharks mind on both NHL and AHL tracks was an incident in 2005 when Nabokov and Toskala tried to return too soon from injuries. They both pushed the envelope on their recovery, and both aggravated respective shoulder and groin issues. Time will be taken with injury recovery, but as evidenced on Friday and Saturday night there is still a lot of talent left in the Goaltending Factory.

21-year old Finn Harri Sateri put on a preseason goaltending clinic against Phoenix Saturday night in his debut at HP Pavilion. He stopped all 28 shots he faced, despite 6 Coyotes power plays and several scrambles in front of his own net. Highly regarded as one of, if not the top European goaltender available in the 2008 draft, Sateri dropped into the 4th round and was picked up by San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke. The Sharks traded a 7th round pick in 2008, and a 4th round pick in 2009 to move up to get him. He was the second European goaltender selected after Jacob Markstrom. On the draft floor, Sateri told TSN speed and skating were two of the biggest strengths of his game.

Saturday the Sharks had a different mix of regular players and prospects than they did the night before against Anaheim. With a roster split half and half, San Jose was pushed by the Coyotes early. “I was a little nervous at the beginning of the game,” Sateri said. “I gave a couple bad rebounds, but then I had a couple great saves and relaxed, and I just enjoyed it.” The flow of the game slowed considerably in the first. There were 4 total penalties in the final 10 minutes, and 6 in the second period alone. Lines and d-pairs from both teams had trouble getting into a rhythm. Sateri’s biggest test came late in the first after a rebound created a pileup in front of the goalmouth with several players jostling for position. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Sateri kept his body in front of the puck, and was forced to make several quick reaction saves on short shots. Given more time to set and face shooters, Sateri showed a compact style, with an economy of motion. Antti Niemi is in a class of his own when it comes to speed getting down into the butterfly, but Sateri gets down to the ice quick while still in a controlled fashion.

In the third period Phoenix tried to carry the puck behind the net and set up forwards cutting through the slot. Sateri was solid sealing off the post, and square to the shooter when the puck came out in front. It was a deliberate and focused style of play that normally comes from a more experienced goalie, but the exuberance came through after the preseason win. “It’s a great feeling, a win, a shutout, in my first exhibition, a great feeling,” Sateri said. ‘I just tried to play my own game.” Injuries are a fact of the modern game, but at the very least Sateri will start his first full professional season in North America as the #1 goaltender in Worcester.

The second preseason game in as many nights was also an opportunity to evaluate several ongoing roster battles for third and fourth line roles. With Havlat still on the mend, Tommy Wingels joined Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe on the top line and the trio created the first scoring chance for San Jose. A point shot by Jason Demers was tipped just wide with traffic in front. The game devolved into fits and starts, penalties and several odd-man rushes. Both teams tried to adjust and maintain clean possession. A big part of settling down the San Jose side late in the first period was newly acquired defenseman Colin White. Bought out in the offseason by New Jersey, White signed a 1-year, $1M deal with San Jose and has somewhat flown under the radar. Known for his size (6-foot-4, 215-pounds) and hard edge defensive ability, there is more nuance to his game than some on the West Coast may be aware of.

“San Jose has been great. The weather’s been great. Obviously, the team’s been working really hard this past week, and it shows in the games,” Colin White said after the win over Phoenix. White and veteran defenseman Jim Vandermeer add a leadership and toughness quotient to the Sharks defense. White has a pair of Stanley Cups with New Jersey (2000, 2003), served stints as alternate captain, and has playoff experience in 10 of his 11 years in the league. Several times on Saturday night White was communicating with d-partner Jason Demers on the ice, then later on the bench. While departed defenseman Niclas Wallin was tough in front of his own net, his assets may have been best suited more for an Eastern Conference style of play. Colin White is known as a solid defensive defenseman, but as more games pass on the calender he may grow into a slightly different role for San Jose.

“I think we play defense first, but it leads to the quickness up the ice. We take care of our own end and try to spend short periods of time in it, obviously,” White said after the game. “Defense is still priority on this team, like any other team. But, they want me to jump up in the play a little more, which is new and exciting. It will take a little getting used to, but I like it so far.” In the third period Colin White neutralized a Phoenix scoring chance deep in the defensive zone. He held off a forecheck, protected the puck with his body, and allowed the forward line to get a head of steam going before he slid a pass up the wall. Repeat that a few hundred times over the course of an 82-game season, and it could be one of the more underrated moves made this offseason.

Torrey Mitchell and John McCarthy flashed speed, but could not convert on first period breakaways. Cam MacIntyre dropped the gloves with left wing Kyle Chipchura for an extended fight in the second period, then started the third period with a heavy wrist shot that narrowly sailed over the top of the net. Left wing Taylor Pyatt somehow irrated Ryane Clowe down low, and was cross checked high twice while on the ice as a result. Clowe gave him a long look before skating back to his bench. Phoenix goaltender Jason Labarbera wants to make an impression after the departure of Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia. Labarbera was run into by the foot of Wingels in a third period race for icing. He performed a half tiger roll to draw the penalty. Labarbera stopped 29 of 30 shots, but could not get any offensive support from his team. The Sharks turned up the heat at the end of the third. Handzus narrowly missed a breakaway opportunity on his backhand, and a hesitation move by Couture resulted in a quick Clowe-Wingels connection that was smothered by Labarbera. Brandon Mashinter sidestepped two players to create a scoring chance, and drew a late penalty that eventually resulted in the game winner.

Benn Ferriero capitalized on the power play, chopping home a rebound as bodies, limbs and snow all converged around Labarbera at the same time. Ferriero did a mini-Bobby Orr dive to the side of the net, and was joined by his teammates for a quick celebration. Ferriero noted how last year’s playoff experience helped him as a player. “[Playing in the playoffs last year] definitely helped,” Ferriero said. “Obviously playoffs is ramped up another notch. It definitely helped to get a couple games under my belt, and it benefitted me going into this year.” 16,221 was the announced attendance for Saturday’s preseason game.

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