The San Jose Sharks on Sunday took a much needed break from what turned out to be a rough week in their NHL schedule. For the second consecutive year, Sharks players and coaches took to the hardwood for a Special Olympics floor hockey event.
Eight Sharks players and a handful of coaches participated in Team Black vs. Team White at Bellarmine College Preparatory High School in San Jose. Head coach Peter DeBoer served as referee.
From start to finish, the experience was like a typical Sharks game at SAP Center. The two teams entered through a Sharks head to rousing introductions and applause. They stood patiently while organist Mikey Day played the national anthem. Even Sharks broadcasters Randy Hahn and Dan Rusanowsky had the call from the sideline.
Of course, the Special Olympians and Sharks players on the floor made it all happen.
"Hey, we've got to hit 38 on the outside here," Sharks defensman Brenden Dillon said as the game got started. "38 is the scorer here."
Dillon was joined by teammates Joe Pavelski, Joel Ward, Mikkel Boedker, Chris Tierney, Paul Martin and Dylan DeMelo.
For an exhibition game, it had some pretty competitive moments.
"It's been a little heated," Martin said. "There's been some broken sticks and some hip checks. But all in good sport and good fun. So it's pretty special."
And DeBoer's thoughts on his role-reversal as a ref?
"I thought I did," he said when asked if he called a fair game. "Obviously, the team that lost is disappointed in the refereeing, and the team that won thought I did a great job. But that's par for the course."
The Sharks teamed with Special Olympics Northern California to make the game happen for a second straight year. DeBoer participated in both.
"I actually was really looking forward to this year's event because of how well last year's went, and it didn't disappoint," he said. "It was even better."
The game went back and forth and was sent to a shootout tied at 4.
Toby Hoffman scored the game winner for Team White.
DeBoer said the event was a great way to put the past two losses on the ice behind them.
"You lose last night, you're down, and you come out here and see the joy on these athletes' faces," he said. "The winning goal, it was like they won the Stanley Cup."