Inside San Jose’s Shark Tank, the Sounds of Playoff Fever

3 min
San Jose Sharks radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky looks down on the ice as the game's about to begin inside the "shark tank." (Brian Watt/KQED)

The San Jose Sharks have once again clinched a spot in the NHL playoffs, and their die-hard fans who fill the SAP Center — aka "The Shark Tank" — are hoping they make it all the way to the finals this year.

KQED's Brian Watt went inside the Shark Tank to capture the sounds of the game. He started at the top, where a row of reporters and broadcasters look down onto the ice. Dan Rusanowsky has been doing the radio play-by-play for the Sharks since the team's first game in 1991. Rusanowsky said his style has evolved since the early days, and he walks a tightrope between longtime hockey fans and new ones.

They Were Almost the Redwoods

"I'm not explaining what offsides or icing is anymore, but yet I'm describing some of the other nuances of the game going on on the ice, and that's important for even the most astute fan to understand," Rusanowsky said.

Some of the fans have been with the team since the start too, like Jo Carlson of Mountain View, who was at the first game the Sharks played at the Cow Palace.

"They lost for many years," she said. "It was wonderful when they played... and won."

So what does she like about the game after all these years?

"You know I like a good clean hockey game, and if there's a fight that needs to be, then you send them out to fight. But it's a good clean fight. It's not dirty," Carlson said.

Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks controls the puck against the Las Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Center on March 18, 2019 in San Jose.
Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks controls the puck against the Las Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Center on March 18, 2019 in San Jose. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Fighting and hockey may sound like a cliche, but fans see it as a real part of the game. Ten-year-old James Telly said his favorite Sharks player is left wing Evander Kane, because "I like the way he fights and the way he swings with his fists."

The Sharks have been on a losing streak since clinching their playoff berth, but Telly believes that they will return to their winning ways.

"I believe they can win it. And they try their hardest. Every day they've been doing good, and I really believe they can win the Stanley Cup," Telly said.

That may sound like the optimism of youth, but veteran fan Jo Carlson is hopeful too.

"I'm rooting for them," Carlson said. "I mean, we've been waiting for them a long time. I think this is the year."

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