Rylan Schwartz finally caught his breath on April 19. It was then the former Colorado College hockey player recorded his first professional goal, capping a strong seven-game performance (four points) for the American Hockey League's Worcester Sharks. 'I had had a few scoring chances before but couldn't finish, ' the former Tiger said. 'It ended up being a backhander off a rebound. It wasn't a pretty goal but I was glad to get it out of the way. '
After a couple weeks without playing, Schwartz had to play his way back into game shape when he signed a two-year deal on April 7.
He spent the first couple games getting used to the speed of the professional game and the tighter defenses. Keep in mind the AHL is the equivalent of Triple-A for the NHL.
'I was a little bit nervous the first couple games and working out is not the same as practicing on the ice, ' he said. 'I settled in and got the pace down. Everyone is so good at positional hockey and they make fewer mistakes.
'I think I played pretty well. I had more of a defensive role with more time on the penalty kill than the power play. I think I showed them what I can do. '
The San Jose management must have liked it.
Schwartz, 23, and several other younger players with two-way contracts -- eligible to play both in the AHL and NHL -- are in California for a Sharks prospects camp.
'We look forward to helping him continue to develop and advance his career, ' San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said.
That exposure comes after a breakout season for the history major from Wilcox, Sask. The center, who is scheduled to graduate this month, recorded an NCAA Division I-best 53 points (33 assists), both career highs, to win the team Most Valuable Player and leading scorer awards.
Schwartz set a team record with 10 points in six postseason games that led to a share of the team's playoffs MVP award.
'It's a good accomplishment for me and a real honor that the guys (his teammates) voted for me, ' he said. 'I know some people didn't always give me full credit for what I did in college because of my brother (Blues forward Jaden) but my teammates never did that. That helped a lot. '