There’s a reason why the San Jose Sharks have signed Nick Cicek to an NHL contract.
Last season, the undrafted Portland Winterhawks defenseman signed a contract with the San Jose Barracuda. It’s been a tough year for the Barracuda, but Cicek, playing consistent top-four minutes in his rookie pro season, has been a bright spot.
He’s even worn an “A” for the Cuda, always a high honor but especially so for a first-year pro.
Cicek is no stranger to being a leader on and off the ice though, having been named the captain of his junior team in his final year.
“I have a personality where I’m going to be talking no matter what; that’s just who I am. I’m not the type to be quiet in the room, but I act the same way with or without a letter,” he told San Jose Hockey Now last week. “It was an honor being a rookie and wearing that letter, but as I said, it doesn’t change much.”
This echoes what Cicek said when he was named Winterhawks captain: “I think a lot of the time, if someone gets a letter and they change their style of game play or they change who they are, that sort of defeats the purpose of them getting the letter.”
Since making the jump from juniors, the 21-year-old has a specific thing he’s most happy about in his own game, and it’s something San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer has seen as well.
“The biggest thing for me, I feel, is that I’ve been breaking out the puck really well this year,” Cicek said. “I find that the majority of the time, when I have the puck in my zone, I’m making the good, right play, and I have support around to make the easy plays to my teammates.”
Cicek noted that being able to break out the puck as a team makes defensemen’s lives easier. Sommer brought up the same concept when asked about where he’s seen the most improvement in Cicek’s play throughout the season.
“I think defensively, killing plays and not letting stuff stay alive in the d-zone,” Sommer offered, “and his ability to move a puck with a pace on it. Most of the time, when he moves it, it’s a positive play.”
Assistant coach Michael Chiasson has been working with Cicek on killing plays. According to Cicek, a significant part of their work has focused on his stick positioning and using his stick more effectively.
“At the beginning of the year,” he noted, “that was a big thing that Chaser was talking about, and then [Sharks assistant general manager] Tim Burke. He was telling me a lot about that.
“So we’ve been working on that all year, and I feel like it really has improved throughout the year, and it’s made me more effective not only in the d-zone but killing plays in the neutral zone and holding better line rushes.”
But back to that leadership: Nick Cicek’s personality and work ethic have stood out to Sommer from the beginning.
“He’s one of those guys who is the first one on and the last one off and works in his game,” Sommer said. “He listens. He’s coachable. You tell him something and you know you don’t have to tell him again. He gets it.”
This work ethic and coachability translates to the room.
“He’s a guy who draws people to him. He doesn’t care who he hangs out with. He’s real open,” Sommer shared. “Wants to win. Very positive with everybody. I know when he was out [due to a broken jaw], we sure missed him in our dressing room.”
Sommer ended his statement by comparing Nick Cicek to a defenseman the Sharks organization and their fans are all too familiar with: “He’s a lot like Mario Ferraro.”
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?
Everybody seems to view Nick Cicek as the go-to DJ in the locker room, but we’ve never gotten to know what’s on his playlists. So, of course, San Jose Hockey Now had to ask, and here it is: We still don’t get to know.
“I can’t be giving all the secrets away,” Cicek laughed before mentioning a small insight as to how he makes the day’s soundtrack. “I’m not just playing the exact same songs every game because that just gets boring for myself, so I can’t even imagine what the guys in the room are thinking.
“I’m trying to find new stuff. It doesn’t have to be new songs, but stuff maybe the guys haven’t heard in a couple of years, but they can remember right away, and that usually gets their attention going. They can sing a little throwback or something that they forgot about.”
However, you were promised some Nick Cicek-curated music, so here are the three songs the maestro says he is listening to now:
- Lord Knows by Drake
- Cold Heart by Elton John and Dua Lipa
- Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
He wanted you to have a little bit of everything in those three songs.
While he may have the “best music” crown from the guys, Cicek wouldn’t name who he thought has the worst.
“There is someone I wouldn’t hand the aux cord, but I won’t be naming any names. That’s too far. That’s not my place.”
See? A solid locker room guy, not willing to cause any rifts.
EVEN MORE FUN
“I really love spicy food. So I would go with red sauce. Mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Grilled Chicken. Probably bacon and banana peppers. Top that off with some red pepper chili flakes for sure.”
What about pineapple on pizza?
“Oh, I do it all the time. I like a little sweet-salty action. I’ll even chuck some pineapple on when I’m doing a spicy because then you get like the sweet, salty, spicy.”
What superpower does he want?
“Time-traveling would be really cool. It would be awesome to go to different times and stuff and see different people.”
When would he want to visit?
“Time travel means I could go to the future too, I would assume. I’d check out the future, see what’s going on there, and then I’ll go back to see my parents as they were kids. I’d see how they acted and then attack them when they attacked me about stuff. I don’t know. I’ll just play around with it.”
Oh, one more:
“I would like to read minds too. Being able to read minds would be great.”
“The hockey IQ would be through the roof.”
AHL travel or WHL travel?
“It’s nice because you get to fly now, so it makes travel a lot shorter. You’re not stuck on the bus for a long time. So I’d have to say [AHL] probably. Don’t get me wrong, the times on the bus are really fun, and we still do a couple of bus trips here. They’re always a good time, but because I’m a big human being, I don’t last well in the smaller bus areas for a long period of time, so I enjoy the flights.
Best AHL road city he’s been to:
“I loved Abbotsford because it’s back in Canada, and my family got to come watch, so that was a lot of fun. But I also really love San Diego. San Diego’s gorgeous. And then Henderson’s pretty cool, Vegas. So that’s a good trip.”
For the fans:
“I know it’s been a tough year we haven’t had as many wins as we wanted to but we appreciate the fans that show up all the time and we love the fans being there and it’s going to get better and we’re going to work on it. I’m excited to see you guys at the rink every day.”
COMING TO A CLOSE
The Barracuda have just five games remaining on their season and are looking to finish on a positive note. They’re currently in the midst of a 10-game losing streak.
Over their previous three games, the Barracuda are 0-2-1, with an overall record of 20-38-3.
In the April 6 road matchup against the Bakersfield Condors, the Barracuda fell 3-2 in overtime. Joachim Blichfeld and Jayden Halbgewachs scored for San Jose in the loss.
Back at home on April 9, the Barracuda suffered a 6-3 loss at the hands of the Henderson Silver Knights. Artemi Kniazev, Dillon Hamaliuk, and Santeri Hatakka each found the back of the net while the team found itself officially out of playoff contention.
The next day, on April 10, the Silver Knights once again defeated the Barracuda with a final score of 7-3. Anthony Bitetto scored his first with San Jose with Hatakka and Blichfeld adding markers of their own.
The game also served as the last appearance the team will make in their loud orange jerseys before making the change to a new set of threads next season.
🍊 kind of day pic.twitter.com/4l1SfpGNCc
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) April 10, 2022
Something new is coming. pic.twitter.com/mq6Lw8c5wz
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) April 11, 2022
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