It’s not often television show motifs and goaltender masks come hand in hand.
For San Jose Barracuda goaltender Zachary Sawchenko, part of his newly-designed mask takes inspiration from the Emmy Award-winning show “Ted Lasso”.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) November 12, 2021
In the show, coach Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, hangs a gold banner above the coaches room for AFC Richmond with the word “Believe” striped across in blue.
On Sawchenko’s mask, he displays that mantra on the back of his helmet at the mouth of a shark to symbolize his competitive spirit through the season.
“I liked that Ted Lasso and his team rallied around that little sign in the locker room,” Sawchenko said. “It’s a simple word, but it holds a lot of meaning. Sometimes the year can get long, so just believe in yourself. That’s something I’ve always held close to. It’s the last thing you look at when you put the helmet on, so that’s why I threw it on the back.”
The back features his most personalized elements with the Canadian flag to represent his homeland of Calgary, Alberta, his number 36, and the San Jose Sharks-inspired emblem.
Sawchenko used a painter from Calgary, Dave Fried, to design his personal mask, which includes his nickname, “Sawzy”, in a signature style on the forefront.
On each of Sawchenko’s previous masks, the 23-year-old netminder has utilized his nickname as a seasonal tradition.
“I’ve always put my nickname on the front on basically every mask I’ve done,” Sawchenko said. “I also put a strip down the middle with the team colors too with the San Jose Sharks logo on either side.”
Overall, Sawchenko was pleased with how the mask reached its final form to represent the San Jose Sharks organization.
“We have one of the coolest team logos and team names in the league, so the Jaws-themed Shark is pretty awesome,” Sawchenko said. “It all turned out pretty good.”
Beginning his third season with the Barracuda, Sawchenko picked up his first win over the Colorado Eagles in a 3-2 victory on Oct. 23.
Shortly after, he tested positive for COVID-19 along with forward Noah Gregor and the two Barracuda members were put in the American Hockey League’s COVID protocol.
Sawchenko was asymptomatic during the week where he missed games against the Texas Stars and Abbotsford Canucks.
“I got pretty lucky,” Sawchenko said. “I didn’t have any side effects or symptoms whatsoever so I was able to live my life as best as I could. It was just a matter of keeping my head into the game. It was tough at times, but I’ve been able to manage.”
Sawchenko lives with Gregor and Jayden Halbgewachs, so they had to quarantine in their respective parts of their living quarters. To pass the time, Sawchenko cooked, walked, watched movies, and observed the Barracuda games from afar.
With the San Jose Sharks’ development camp this summer, Sawchenko was thrilled to compete alongside those skilled skaters competing for jobs while working alongside Sharks’ goaltending coaches Evgeni Nabokov and Dany Sabourin.
“It was a high-end camp,” Sawchenko reflected of his experience. “There was a lot of talent out there. That set the tone early. The summer time gave me a good look at what I’d be working with at the next level. We didn’t have that camp last year, so having it this year was a great opportunity to grow.”
A Daunting Weekend in Abbotsford
For their first trip north of the border this season, the San Jose Barracuda (5-4-1) were reminded of the damp, cold conditions of Canada where they faced the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate for the first time in over a decade. San Jose Sharks current captain Logan Couture was a member of the Worcester Sharks when they previously had met on March 3, 2010.
The Barracuda received help from the returns of Sharks call-ups Ryan Merkley, Jaycob Megna, John Leonard, Sasha Chemelevski, Artemi Kniazev, and Joel Kellman. These would-be Sharks had just played the night before though, and the visitors collapsed to a season-worst 7-1 loss behind an ugly three-goal first-period hole.
San Jose would respond the next night with a 3-2 shootout victory behind Alexei Melnichuk’s 20 saves in an impressive bounce-back effort. Noah Gregor and Evan Weinger scored the goals in regulation.
— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) November 15, 2021
Before all that, forward Joel Kellman suffered a concussion on a scary head-high hit by Canucks forward Vincent Arseneau in the first period.
Here is a replay of the incident. A scary sight as Arseneau slams into upper body of Kellman and immediately falls to the ice and appears to be out cold. #SJBarracuda https://t.co/5VmiKlQ3kS pic.twitter.com/WVz4ON3prt
— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) November 15, 2021
Kellman needed assistance off the ice via a stretcher and the Barracuda were down their top centerman for the rest of the game, but they came out on top on Sasha Chmelevski’s shootout winner.
Before returning to SAP Center for Wednesday’s tilt with the Bakersfield Condors, the Barracuda struggled to get back through the harsh conditions of a deadly storm that cut through British Columbia, taking four hours, rather than the typical two, to get to the airport in Seattle from Abbotsford.
“It rained four days straight when we were up there,” Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. “If we didn’t get out of there when we did, then we wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t have an earlier flight. We made the flight by ten minutes and got back in time.”
Sawchenko made his first start in net since Oct. 23, coming out of the AHL’s COVID protocol and stopping 29 of 32 shots on goal to secure his first victory on home ice.
“I thought he was good,” Sommer said. “He saw some pucks and settled in the first period. He really got his focus together in the second period. He shut the door for us in the third.”
A pair of goals by Scott Reedy and Joachim Blichfeld propelled the Barracuda to their second consecutive win by a score of 4-3.
SCOTT 👏 REEDY 👏 pic.twitter.com/gf3xDxHAgg
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) November 18, 2021
Sommer said after Wednesday’s game that Kellman is feeling better, but won’t partake in any action this week.
The Barracuda are slated to welcome in the San Diego Gulls on Friday and Saturday to close out the three-game homestand.
On Wednesday afternoon, the San Jose Sharks announced the team will host the 2022 Rookie Faceoff at the future home of the San Jose Barracuda at Sharks Ice at San Jose.
The 4,200-seat venue is set to open in August 2022. The annual Rookie Faceoff will take place Sept. 16-19, 2022 and feature four teams from the Pacific Division (Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vegas) and two from the Central Division (Arizona and Colorado).
This past tournament in Arizona featured several Sharks and Barracuda players, including current Barracuda defensemen Ryan Merkley and Artemi Kniazev.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.