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Jr. Sharks’ 14U AAA team sparked by top trio

 

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When the San Jose Jr. Sharks’ 14U AAA team has needed a jumpstart this season, one line in particular has become a go-to for assistant coach John Beaulieu.

The trio of Barak Braslavski, Sami Hakkaranian and Coalson Wolford has been red-hot for the Jr. Sharks, and with all three players averaging over a point-per-game Beaulieu says he knew the line was going to be something special right away.

“As coaches, you try to evaluate your players and try different things,” said Beaulieu. “We knew all three were strong players, and we put them together early on and they just clicked.

“The chemistry was obvious from the first game they played together, and their complement of talent creates some impressive scoring chances and some impressive production.”

It’s not just the on-ice skill set that makes the three players work so well together. Beaulieu says all are highly intelligent and able to recognize what each excels at and use that to exploit opposing teams.

“Their combined effect also allows us as coaches to implement some pretty advanced concepts and strategies, which is a little unusual at this age,” said Beaulieu. “With these guys, we can do some things you’d probably reserve for players a little older because they’re extremely smart, they work well together and they understand each other.”

With 23 goals through 27 games, Braslavski has been terrorizing opposing goaltenders this year by utilizing the strong two-way play of Hakkaranian and Wolford’s ability to find the open ice necessary to create consistent offense.

“Barak’s speed is a defenseman’s worst nightmare,” said Beaulieu. “His ability to find the back of the net has already put him on the radar of scouts. He really works well with Coalson, who’s developing a keen ability to see where the puck will end up and where he needs to be to be the most dangerous.

“Then you add Sami to that – a kid’s who’s a full-ice player, but has got acute intelligence in the offensive zone. Not only that, but he’s so strong in his defensive zone.

“As a line, with all the skills they bring to the table individually, they’re still committed to making each other better.”

The emergence of the trio couldn’t come at a better time, as the 2001-borns enter a pivotal year where Beaulieu says junior and college scouts from across North America are beginning to take a closer look.

“This is the first year these boys become eligible for any junior draft,” said Beaulieu. “This is their (Western Hockey League) Bantam Draft year, and it’s the first year they’re looked at by the (United States Hockey League) with them eligible to be drafted in that league in 2017.

“It’s a critical year. It’s the start of the whole process of them getting discovered.”

While junior and college hockey seems like a long ways away at 14, even though it’s early in the developmental and maturation process Beaulieu can already see all three moving on to higher levels down the road.

“Kids graduate on to juniors at different times,” said Beaulieu. “That said, with these three you can tell they’re all going to be playing junior hockey at some point.

“To what level, it’s too soon to tell, and a lot can happen to a young man between now and the time a junior team enters the picture. But all of them have what it takes to move on to that next level, without a doubt.

“It just comes down to how serious they are about that goal.”

– John B. Spigott