The past three San Jose Sharks games have been inundated — rightfully so — with feel-good vibes as winger Bracken Kearns put his mark on the franchise with his first NHL career goals in a the stretch of just a few games.
What will give you an even bigger case of the warm-and-fuzzies, is how happy the rest of the team is for him.
After nearly eight seasons of looking up at the NHL from a variety of minor league camps, the 32-year-old forward has notched three goals in three games since being recalled from the Worcester Sharks for the first time this season.
And every other player in a teal sweater has caught on to the excitement.
Team captain Joe Thornton expressed the all-around support of the team after Kearns buried his first goal against the Anaheim Ducks:
“All the bench had huge smiles on their faces and he had a huge one. So I am super happy for him… I didn’t realize it was his first goal!”
Kearns’ road to this three-game streak wasn’t a cakewalk. After four years at the University of Calgary, he spent 2005-2011 bouncing around the minors, logging some 500 games with six different AHL teams, and 88 games in the ECHL.
A five-game stint during the 2011-2012 season with the Florida Panthers was the first time that Kearns saw any NHL action before joining the Sharks franchise.
Head coach Todd McLellan said:
“It’s a great story, isn’t it? It’s great for him. But there’s also a lesson in there, about believing in yourself and persevering.”
The Vancouver, British Columbia native has been nothing but appreciative to the Sharks for giving him the platform to fulfill his hockey dreams:
“I owe it to this organization (for giving) me an opportunity. I don’t even know how any many organizations would give a 32-year-old an opportunity like they have given me. … You know, I’ve dreamed about scoring my first NHL goal since I was a kid, so it was just an amazing feeling.”
At the beginning of this season, other youngsters from minor league camp such as Matt Nieto, Freddie Hamilton, John McCarthy and Matt Pelech got the call to SJ before Kearns did.
McLellan commends Kearns for not getting down on himself when he wasn’t immediately recalled, especially after logging time against the Kings in last season’s playoffs:
“Even this year, there were times where he could have been dejected a little about not being the guy coming up. (But) he came up. He left his mark on the game and on our team …”
The most heartfelt of compliments for Kearns came from fellow forward Logan Couture after Thursday’s win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Following an 11-game goal drought, Couture, scored his 100th career goal the same night that Kearns notched his first. The two have since scored in the Sharks last three games.
When asked to comment on their parallel successes, Couture gushed:
“I’m extremely happy for Kearnsy. Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve known the story. I’ve known what he’s gone through, how hard he worked. I’ve seen him work so hard every day. He’s a guy that you admire, especially for me. I’ve had (a very) different road to get to the NHL than he has. … It’s incredible. It gives you chills just thinking about it.”
Kearns was asked Thursday night if — since he had always dreamt of his first NHL goal — if he ever thought he might have scored his first three goals in a three game stretch. He smiled, shrugged a little and replied humbly:
“I don’t know if I dreamt that far ahead. But it feels good … There’s a lot of luck in that, in a streak, and I just have to try to keep it going.”