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Chrona Staying Positive After Rough NHL Start: ‘Only way is up’

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Magnus Chrona was having breakfast with family visiting from Sweden when he found out that the San Jose Sharks had called him up.

Chrona’s parents Annika and Bjorn had flown in on Christmas Day to spend the next two weeks with him with the Barracuda scheduled to stay in the state of California for the duration of their stay.

But instead of sight-seeing with them, and because of a Mackenzie Blackwood illness, Chrona hopped on a quick flight to Southern California and backed Kaapo Kahkonen up in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

And his parents and sister Louise and girlfriend Tessa were there when he made his first NHL start in San Jose the next day.

“It was great to share that experience with them and have them here,” Chrona told San Jose Hockey Now today about the lead-up to his first NHL start. “Obviously, there was a lot of emotion going into it. It’s a dream. I was feeling joy and happiness, and that the dedication finally paid off, that I could get to the NHL and get that experience from it. I am truly grateful for that.”

That dream turned quickly into a nightmare, however.

The 23-year-old netminder allowed four goals on 12 shots, and was pulled after just one period in his first NHL start, in an eventual 5-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

“We let him [out to] dry,” San Jose Sharks alternate captain Tomas Hertl said afterwards. “I feel really bad for him. His first NHL game and we didn’t help him. Say sorry, but it sucks because it’s his first game [and] you just left him there.”

Sharks Locker Room: Hertl, Burroughs Know They Let Chrona Down

Chrona says Hertl relayed the same message to him, as did the rest of team: “It was everyone. Tommy Hertl. Most all of the guys came to support and said don’t worry about it. It’s not on you. Just small things like that. Brings you up, for sure.”

Kahkonen, who replaced Chrona, had a similar message: “Kaapo just said, ‘Keep your head up, buddy. You’re a great goalie, keep your confidence up.’ ”

It’s been a rough introduction to the NHL for the 6-foot-6 netminder, in his first pro campaign after a national championship-winning turn at the University of Denver.

He made his NHL debut in relief of Blackwood on Nov. 4, allowing four goals on 17 shots in the San Jose Sharks’ 10-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In two NHL appearances, Chrona has a 9.50 GAA and a .724 Save %.

Suffice to say, he’s already been through some of the worst of it in the NHL. But he’s trying to take the best from these experiences.

“I don’t see them as negative,” he said. “I see the positive side of things and trying to see what I can gain from the minutes that I’ve played and what happened out there. Then I kind of see what I need to work on and what it takes to be an NHL goalie.”

Chrona certainly has gone through the gauntlet, first clashing with Sidney Crosby and the star-studded Penguins before taking on undoubtedly the best player in the world in Connor McDavid in his first NHL start. So what did he gain from this trial by fire?

“The speed, the competition, the shots, smarter plays, and for me to kind of work a little smart to make it easier for me so I don’t have to chase,” he shared. “I just need to play smart and be more safe and sound that way. That comes with the experience as a goalie because that’s something that you can’t just program yourself into, you just gotta learn it.”

Emotions played a role in Chrona’s struggles, too.

“Probably got up on emotions a little bit, and that’s kind of what puts it into perspective on how you need to be able to play,” he acknowledged.

Good news for Chrona? His NHL career can only get better from here.

“Only way is up,” he smiled. “It is a dream come true. Obviously, it could have gone a little better from my part, but I can’t really complain.”

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