by Lauren Fredericks
The San Jose Sharks are off to a fantastic start this season. They have won all six games so far, making them one of just two undefeated teams. The team leads the Pacific Division and have the most shots-on-goal overall. They also have the highest average goals per game. Despite their successes, the team as a whole is not the talk of the hockey world. One player in particular shines brighter than the rest.
At just nineteen years old, rookie Tomas Hertl has made quite the debut. He earned his first point with an assist to Bret Burns against the Vancouver Canucks in the first game of the season. The first teenager to play in a Sharks season-opener since Mark-Edouard Vlasic in 2006, Hertl went on to prove himself in game two against the Phoenix Coyotes. There he scored his first two NHL goals, the youngest Shark to do so since Patrick Marleau in 1999. All of these records are overshadowed, however, by Hertl’s performance against the New York Rangers. Hertl scored four goals, helping to give the Sharks a smashing 9-2 victory. He earned his first hat trick and became the youngest player in NHL history to score four goals in a single game since Jimmy Carson in 1988.
Since that game, Hertl has gone on to earn a total of nine points. This ties him with hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin, and the captain of the Sharks, Joe Thornton. And when it comes to goals, Hertl takes the prize as the player with the most goals scored this season, beating out Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Since his hockey debut, Hertl has been known for two things: his unbelievable fourth goal against the Rangers and his constant smile. With less than eight minutes left ingame three and having already scored three goals, Hertl gained possession of the puck and broke away from the other players. Skating furiously towards the opposing goal, he positioned his stick between his legs and shot the puck into the upper-left-hand corner of the net. This phenomenal goal demonstrated Hertl’s confidence and immense talent.
Hertl is not afraid to show his excitement in his achievements. After playing in just six NHL games, the teen is already known for his joyful smile. Some other hockey teams have complained about Hertl’s goofy grins on the ice, accusing him of being cocky. The teen, who speaks almost exclusively Czech, told the San Jose Mercury News a different story. “We are winning games, so there is no reason to be sad [and] I have a smile on my face all the time,” Hertl remarked. “I’m just a positive person.”
This young player wants fans to know that he is not just a goal scorer. Hertl strives to be a great all-around player who can be physical as well as quick and smart. When asked if he was intimidated by larger players, Hertl explained, “I don’t mind if somebody hits me because I like it, because I’m ready for it.”
After an amazing start in the NHL, Tomas Hertl has proved he is a force to be reckoned with. Hockey enthusiasts will continue to watch the rookie to see what he will surprise fans with next.
(Sources: National Post, Wikipedia, San Jose Mercury News)