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Sharks’ rookie defenseman enjoys faster start to NHL career than Cale Makar

SAN JOSE – It didn’t take long for San Jose Sharks rookie defenseman Henry Thrun to make an impact in his first NHL game.

Thrun assisted on first-period goals by Mario Ferraro and Oskar Lindblom as the Sharks took a two-goal lead over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at SAP Center.

On Ferraro’s goal at the 4:16 mark of the first, Logan Couture won a draw inside the Golden Knights zone, and Thomas Bordeleau tapped the puck back to Thrun. The defenseman then slid it over to Mario Ferraro inside the blue line, and Ferraro’s shot went off a body in front and got past Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit for a 1-0 Sharks lead.

On the Lindblom goal 10:15 later, Thrun found Ferraro again, this time with a crisp diagonal pass in the neutral zone. Ferraro then carried the puck toward the net and found Lindblom for a tap-in goal and a 2-0 Sharks lead.

In a way, Thrun, 22, has had a faster start to his NHL career than last season’s Norris Trophy winner, Cale Makar, who made his NHL debut in a Colorado Avalanche playoff game against the Calgary Flames on April 15, 2019. Makar had opted to turn pro after two years at UMass, and scored one goal in his NHL debut.

Thrun, who attended Harvard, played 5:36 in the first period as the Sharks held a 2-1 lead.

The Golden Knights tied the game 2-2 just 1:08 into the second period, as Ivan Barbashev scored his 15th of the season.

Thrun’s parents, brother, and girlfriend all made the trip from Boston to watch the game.

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“It’s really special for all of us,” Thrun said Thursday morning. “It’s something we’ve all worked for and I wouldn’t be here without those people, so it means a lot that they will make it. I think we’re all really excited for it.”

Thrun, instead of electing free agency this summer, chose to sign a two-year entry-level contract with the Sharks, who announced the deal last Saturday.

Thrun had 33 points, including 26 assists, in 33 games this season with Harvard, which advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament and lost 8-1 to Ohio State on Friday in the first round.

In three seasons at Harvard, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Thrun had 84 points in 99 games. Thrun also played the 2020-2021 season with Dubuque of the USHL, collecting 22 points in 24 games. He was also part of Team USA’s entry at the 2021 World Junior Championships.

Sharks coach David Quinn said Thursday morning that he just wanted Thrun, who he’s known for seven or eight years, to play to his strengths.

“Don’t try to do too much. Just do what he’s done throughout his career,” Quinn said. “One of the things that I think is a strength of his is, is his game is adaptable with every level he’s gone to. He doesn’t have to adapt his game or play a different style.

“The thing I’ve always liked about him is he plays a practical game, he lets his skill influence the game and he’s never tried to do too much. He’s been productive offensively and it’s been in the right manner, a game that can transfer.”

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