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Laubach on Highs, Lows of Being a Sharks Fan



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

“I was watching that, and I actually called it. I was sitting in the room with my dad, it was 3-0 Vegas. I was like, ‘Watch, they’re gonna come back.’ And immediately, 4-3. I was like, ‘Holy crap!'”

Like many San Jose Sharks fans, Reese Laubach has many fond (and some not fond) memories rooting for his hometown NHL team. But the San Jose native is one of few to live out their childhood dream of being drafted by their hometown team.

Laubach, the Sharks’ 217th-overall pick in 2022, is a San Jose Jr. Sharks alumni who grew up frequenting Sharks Ice before eventually moving to Minnesota to further pursue his hockey career. Growing up in the Bay Area, his path to high-level hockey was pretty unlikely.

BREAKING: Sharks Take Reese Laubach at No. 217

“None of my parents played hockey,” Laubach shared with San Jose Hockey Now. “They never were really hockey fans. My dad was given tickets to a Sharks game when I was four or five. He took me and I fell in love with it there.

“Immediately from there, I started playing hockey. Started doing all the skating classes, played house league, and played Jr. Sharks since I was eight.”

What drew him to hockey over other more popular Bay Area sports?

“It was probably the speed. Just how fast it was, I fell in love with it immediately,” he recalled. “I played baseball for a year and never really liked it. I played other sports too growing up. I just stuck to hockey because of the speed.”

Playing at Sharks Ice, which also serves as the San Jose Sharks’ practice facility, led to Laubach meeting plenty of NHL’ers. Among them was his favorite player, Joe Pavelski: “When I was I was six or seven, I met him the first time. He was the nicest one to me. He was super-cool, he gave me a bunch of autographs. From there, I just loved him.”

It’s also easy to stay in the sport when you are as naturally talented as Laubach. The center shared that in his first couple years of hockey, he scored “probably 50 or 60 goals each year. So, I had a blast. I had a really good group of friends. I was playing with some friends that I’m still super good friends with.

“By the time I was 12, I decided I’m gonna really take this seriously,” Laubach shared. “My 15 or 16-year I was like, ‘I think I’m good enough to try to do something with hockey, try to make something out of it.’ That’s when I really put my head down, started getting to work, and that’s where it turned into like a hope for a career.”

At age 15, Laubach was invited to his first development camp with USA Hockey. Also around then was “the first time a college coach reached out to me. It was the first time I realized, ‘Dang, I can actually be pretty good.”

As his hockey career continued, so did his Sharks fandom. He vividly remembers the roller coaster of emotions that were caused by rooting for the 2010’s San Jose Sharks, including the infamous reverse sweep by the Los Angeles Kings in 2014.

“I remember sitting on the couch in my house watching it. I was pretty mad,” he remembered. “There’s a couple of times I was probably crying when I was a little younger, there’s lost games or stuff. I was a pretty diehard fan. When stuff like that happened, I wasn’t too happy with it.”

His favorite memory happened when he was 12, in 2016.

“When they were going to the Cup, that one year, it was probably my favorite year watching the Sharks. We got to fly out to go to a game in Pittsburgh. It was a present for my brother and I… that was my favorite Sharks memory ever.”

Laubach even remembers when his favorite player, Pavelski, left the team in free agency: “I was pretty bummed about that. I remember that pretty vividly. I was like, ‘That’s a bummer, he’s my favorite one.’ I still follow him a little bit on Dallas. I remember when they got Karlsson and they got other big guys like that. It’s been cool to see the ups and downs.”

In 2020-21, when COVID cancelled the Jr. Sharks’ season, Laubach moved to Minnesota to play Triple-A hockey for Northstar Christian Academy.

“When I moved off to Minnesota, that’s when I stopped paying a ton of attention to NHL hockey,” Laubach mentioned. “I paid attention to the Sharks a little bit, but I just had so much going on. I didn’t have much time.”

“I played at Northstar, which really turned me into the player I am today, and the person,” he added. “There’s been so many coaches here and at Northstar that have gotten me here. Without all that, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’m super thankful for that group of coaches, especially the ones that Northstar, for pushing me to be a better person and player every day.”

Laubach continued on his coaches: “Both my coaches there, Rylan Galiardi and Dallas Steward, played professional hockey for a number of years. They know what it took to get there. They really bought into me, they really dug into me. They did everything they could for me to help develop me into the player I am.”

Galiardi, naturally, is the older brother of former San Jose Sharks player, T.J. Galiardi. So even at Northstar, Team Teal was following Laubach around.

The youngster would put up 51 goals and 102 points in just 57 Triple-A games with Northstar in 2021-22, prompting the Sharks to take a flier on the San Jose native late in the 2022 NHL Draft. Last season, he put up 11 goals and 24 points in 50 USHL games with the Youngstown Phantoms and Omaha Lancers.

After previously committing to Minnesota State University-Mankato, Laubach has changed his commitment to Penn State. He discussed this decision with Locked on Sharks recently.

Reese Laubach on Flipping to Penn State

Laubach has now participated in two San Jose Sharks development camps, and not only have they helped him prepare for his upcoming freshman season at Penn State, but given the 19-year-old a unique opportunity to reconnect with his San Jose roots, previous Sharks fandom, and Jr. Sharks career.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” he reflected. “Growing up, I played on the North Rink, twice, three times a week. To get to skate on that rink, with that group of guys, wearing a Sharks jersey for real, is pretty awesome.”

It has also been an experience that he can share with his family, who were a highlight of last year’s development camp. They came out in full force to the Prospects Scrimmage to cheer him on: “It’s cool for us to be all together. To be here with me wearing not a Jr. Sharks jersey anymore, but an actual Sharks jersey. It’s awesome.”

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