Kevin Labanc is taking his demotion to the AHL in stride.
The Sharks sent the 21-year-old winger down to the San Jose Barracuda, their top minor league affiliate, on Sunday. Labanc suited up for the Barracuda that same night, firing a team-high five pucks on net, and adding two assists in San Jose’s 6-1 win over the Texas Stars.
“It was definitely fun. You just take it for what it is,” Labanc said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “I felt good. I felt confident and I’ve just got to keep working and keep proving myself every day.”
After scoring three goals in his first four games with the Sharks, Labanc was unable to find the back of the net in his next nine. In Saturday’s shootout win against Anaheim, head coach Peter DeBoer dropped Labanc to the fourth line.
Labanc shuttled back and forth between the Sharks and Barracuda last season, scoring 19 points in 19 AHL games. After making the NHL roster out of training camp, this is his first stint in the minors this season.
He hopes to “make a statement” during his time in the AHL, and has the right attitude, according to Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer.
“You know what? He could have come down here with a big lip and I didn’t see it. He had fun out there,” Sommer told reporters after Sunday’s win. “This league is all about coming down and getting your mojo back.”
The Sharks are currently carrying 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders on their roster, with an open roster spot while defenseman Paul Martin is on injured reserve.
Should the Sharks choose to carry an additional forward in Martin’s absence, Labanc will face stiff competition from his Barracuda linemates.
Danny O’Regan also assisted on two goals on Sunday, while Marcus Sorensen scored a hat-trick. O’Regan and Sorensen are first and second, respectively, in scoring on the Barracuda.