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Ex-Jr. Shark Cooley Excited for His First Start at SAP Center



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

What’s Devin Cooley most excited about tonight?

The Los Gatos native and ex-Jr. Shark will be making his first start at SAP Center.

Naturally, for the life-long San Jose Sharks fan, it’s leading the team through the Shark Head.

“That’s what I’m most excited for,” he smiled. “I just hope I don’t trip through the fog. Last time when I was going out like as a back-up, I almost hit it. Oh man, that’d be pretty embarrassing.”

The 26-year-old told San Jose Hockey Now recently that his family have had season tickets since he was a baby. He also reported that about 12 family and friends will be in attendance tonight, including, surely, his father.

So Cooley grew up on Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, and of course, Evgeni Nabokov.

As a kid, he even talked goaltending with Nabokov, then-the Sharks starter and now the team’s director of goaltending, at Sharks Ice.

Cooley’s Story Yet Another Proof of Hockey’s Success in Bay Area

“It’s pretty surreal being back there now,” Cooley said of being at Sharks Ice. “Like practicing with the actual Sharks, looking around the room and being like, I’ve been here, a million times.”

Cooley counts his best and worst San Jose Sharks memory as being at Game Four of the 2016 Final, a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Besides goalies, Cooley also had an appreciation for those who protect them, like hulking defenseman Douglas Murray.

“Liked watching him because he was always the big guy who’s throwing out the massive hits,” Cooley said. “He was always fun to watch as a kid.”

It’s also not lost on Cooley that he’ll be sharing the ice with blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who’s been with the San Jose Sharks since 2006-07.

Safe to say, tonight is going to be a bit of a sensory overload for Cooley. So it’s a good thing that it’s just his first NHL start in San Jose, as opposed to also being his NHL debut.

Cooley enjoyed that last week, acquitting himself well in a 4-1 loss to these same Blackhawks.

Since then, he’s worked extensively with San Jose Sharks goaltending coach Thomas Speer.

“Just playing more in control, letting the game come to me a little bit,” Cooley shared. “We’ve been working a lot on just filling space and not reaching and not attacking pucks, but rather just letting them come into you. Having a little bit more of like a relaxed stance so I have a bigger presence in the net.”

Cooley hopes to bring that tonight in what will surely be an emotional affair: “I think I could maybe calm my game down a little bit now because I’ve got my first game and now I can really focus on being a little bit more in control.”

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