Written by: Sarah Sheehy,Worcester Sharks Intern and Boston College Sophomore majoring in Communications
Imagine winning the NCAA National Championship or scoring the game winning goal in the legendary Beanpot Tournament. Envision raising your hockey stick to a fanatic student section at the Mullins Center or leading your team to the number one spot in the conference. These are the experiences of eight Hockey East skaters. These are the memories of eight newly acquired San Jose Sharks players. This time, instead of competing against each other, they must skate with one organization, and for most, the first time as professional hockey players.
For the 2009-10 season, the San Jose Sharks have eight new Hockey East players under contract-- Benn Ferriero, Nick Petrecki, John McCarthy, Louis Liotti, Cory Quirk, Dean Strong, Matt Jones, and Joe Loprieno. Though collectively they appeared in the NCAA from 2005-2009, all eight faced each other in the 2007-08 season. These men not only contributed to the conference’s rich reputation, but will do the same for the Sharks organization this impending season. Hockey East claims 499 all-time NHL draft-picks in the past 25 years, twelve of those selected in the 2009 NHL Montréal Draft. 
The most recent signee, Boston College’s Benn Ferriero, netted his 99th career point by scoring in the first round of the 2008 Beanpot defeating John McCarthy and the Terriers 4-3 in overtime. The five-foot-eleven, 192-pound center from Essex, MA also faced Joe Loprieno in a memorable January 12, 2007 game when Ferriero notched a hat-trick and assist to defeat the Merrimack Warriors.
Ferriero’s teammate, Boston College defenseman Nick Petrecki, knows exactly how to turn up the intensity as widely remembered during his 2008 Beanpot Championship overtime goal. The six-foot-three, 220-pound Schenectady, NY native was San Jose’s first round 2007 NHL draft-pick and played a significant role on BC’s 2008 National Championship team. However, this season’s playoffs did not pan out as well, with archrival Boston University seizing the title. No hard feelings though, Petrecki declares,  “You grow up with a lot of those guys, playing against them and then you choose different routes either major-junior or college, but I was actually happy for [John] McCarthy because he’s a good kid and kept the trophy on Commonwealth Ave.”
Now take John McCarthy, the seventh round 2006 NHL draft-pick and captain of Boston University’s 2009 National Championship team. At six-foot-one and 200-pounds, he also led his team to the 2009 Beanpot Championship. Knowing the importance of defeating BU’s Hockey East rivals, McCarthy stepped up his freshman year when he chipped in a goal in the Hockey East Championship against Boston College in a 2-1 overtime victory. However, don’t expect this past to get in the way of the Sharks season. “When BU is playing BC you’re rivals,” comments McCarthy, “Off the ice it’s different. [Petrecki] is a good guy. We get along real well.” 
McCarthy is also familiar with Beanpot contender and captain Louis Liotti of the Northeastern Huskies. The six-foot-one, 200-pound native of Westbury, NY recorded his first career multi-point game against McCarthy’s Terriers in Northeastern’s 4-2 win on February 28, 2007. He also scored in the Huskies’s 6-1 win over Boston College in the 2009 Beanpot semis.   Subsequently, he tallied two assists in the 4-1 win over Cory Quirk and the Minutemen in the Hockey East Quarterfinals on March 14, 2009. Liotti is accustomed to physical and aggressive play and will not take any Sharks rival lightly.
Five-foot-ten, 180-pound UMASS forward Cory Quirk proved himself to Liotti earlier when he scored a goal and an assist on January 30, 2009 against the Huskies.  He also tallied a goal and two assists against Joe Loprieno in a regular-season finale against Merrimack on March 7, 2009. The Brockton, MA native co-captained the team his senior year and like his future teammates, shows great leadership qualities. “Cory is a terrific leader on and off the ice. We praise the job that UMass-Amherst Head Coach Don Cahoon and his staff have done to further Cory’s career,” asserted Worcester Sharks General Manager Wayne Thomas.
Fellow Hockey East captain, Dean Strong of the University of Vermont, also competed against Quirk in 2007-08. The forward had a career-high four points (1g, 3a) in a 4-2 win over Quirk-captained UMASS Amherst on November 20, 2007.   His senior year, the Ontario-native chipped in the game-winning goal in a 4-3 victory at Merrimack on February 14, 2009.
Forward Matt Jones of the Merrimack Warriors recently completed his first season of professional hockey with the Worcester Sharks after finishing his sophomore season with the Warriors. The six-foot-four, 205-pound native of Kentwood, Michigan is no stranger to Hockey East competition and scored his first two collegiate goals in a 2-1 win over rival UMASS Amherst. Additionally, with his Hockey East ties and Sharks experience, Jones will be able to ease the seven others into the professional realm.
Jones’ teammate, Joe Loprieno, joins the Sharks after three seasons with Merrimack. The six-foot-three, 225-pound native of Bloomingdale, Illinois captained the Warriors to multiple victories against Hockey East schools in the 2008-09 season. The 3-2 home victory against Vermont on February 13 and the 3-2 overtime triumph against UMASS on March 6, propelled Loprieno’s team to two vital Hockey East wins.
In addition to the help from Jones, Torrey Mitchell, center for San Jose, will be a good role model for the incoming group. Having skated for the University of Vermont, the Montreal native began his professional career in Worcester during the 2006-07 season, and from there moved up to San Jose. He was the San Jose Sharks Rookie of the Year two years ago and will continue with them this upcoming season. With a group of both experienced coaches and players, the Hockey East skaters will manage an effortless transition.
Although once rivals, the players now enter the professional organization all as former Hockey East skaters. Bred from the same area, perhaps their upbringing will foster quicker connections between the teammates. Initial tensions will ease for those assigned to Worcester, only a short ride from all Hockey East schools. Likewise, the skaters will be familiar with some of the Worcester Sharks visiting venues. The Sharks play just their third game of the season on October 10th at the Tsongas Arena, home to both the UMASS Lowell River Hawks and the Lowell Devils.
With the Sharks’ hopeful run in the Stanley and Calder Cup Playoffs last season, the new additions will skate with some of the most experienced and unsurpassed professional players in the league. As for the upcoming season, the Sharks must isolate their collegiate-competitiveness and focus on the challenging and quickly approaching 80-game schedule that begins on October 1st (San Jose) and 3rd (Worcester). However, with Hockey East’s announcement of the historic BC vs. BU outdoor game at Fenway Park on January 8, 2010, it would be more than appropriate for the Sharks to overlook their teammates for a night and wager on their beloved alma mater once again.

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