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Preview/Lines #53: For Dustin Wolf, Sharks Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer Is Family



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

In Thomas Speer’s house, Dustin Wolf is known as “Uncle Wolfy”.

It was a challenging time when Wolf, the Calgary Flames’ 2019 seventh-round pick, landed in Stockton in 2021. The Stockton Heat was the Flames’ AHL affiliate from 2015 to 2022.

“Coming into my first year in Stockton and COVID obviously hit,” Wolf recalled at AHL All-Star weekend in San Jose two weeks ago. “Prior to that season and in the peak of it, he took me in with his family for three months. Really got to know him on a personal level and his kids and his family.”

So much so that Speer’s kids, Logan, 7, Cameron, 5, and Connor, 2, know him as “Uncle Wolfy”.

“They’re basically my little brothers now. I don’t have any other siblings,” the Gilroy native, 22, said. “So to have a couple of young ones that look up to you and you can have fun with, it’s pretty awesome.”

Naturally, the hyper-competitive Wolf gave the boys no quarter in mini sticks.

“I give them little hacks in the shins,” he laughed. “I’ve put a couple holes in their fences in the backyard.”

The star goaltending prospect makes a point of visiting the Speer house, now in San Jose. Speer left the Flames organization in 2022 to become the San Jose Sharks’ goaltending coach.

And tonight, Wolf starts for the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome against Speer’s Sharks.

“It sucked to see him leave, but at the same time, he’s done great things with the Sharks,” Wolf said.

And indeed, despite the last-place Sharks’ struggles, Speer has goalies Mackenzie Blackwood and Kaapo Kahkonen playing some of their best hockey ever. Both have been analytical bright spots in a tough season.

Analytics Behind Blackwood, Kahkonen’s Stellar Seasons (+)

“You just look at the performance of our two goalies this year. The progress they’ve made and where they’re at mentally. Thomas has done a really good job,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said of Speer. “I just think he’s got a great way about him. There’s a lot of humility to him. He relates very well to his goalies. He cares an awful lot about them. The goalies quickly connect to him.”

Relationship-building is a Speer trademark. Just ask Wolf.

“The hockey part of it is one thing, but I think the biggest part with him, is just like how close you can get with him as a person. Coming into my first-year pro, it’s a big jump, you’re trying to go play well and get used to the environment living on your own and doing all that stuff,” Wolf said.

Speer and Wulf were so close in Stockton, they even teamed up to terrorize the local pick-up basketball courts.

“There was one place along the freeway where there was like NBA hoops and there would always be guys out there. We come up there and show them how it’s done. A lot of them were quite a bit taller than both of us,” the 6-foot-0 Wolf smiled. “But we got some good work ethic. So we were always very competitive.”

For Wolf, Speer is family: “He was not only influential in my hockey career, but as a person.”

San Jose Sharks (14-33-5)

Same lines as yesterday, except Mackenzie Blackwood starts.

These are how the Sharks played yesterday:



Calgary Flames (25-23-5)

Get up to date on the Calgary Flames at Trevor Neufeld’s Calgary Hockey Now!

Where To Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames is 6 PM PT at Scotiabank Saddledome. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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