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Kraken celebrate Fan Appreciation Night with 3-0 win over Sharks

We’ll see you next year, Climate Pledge Arena

San Jose Sharks v Seattle Kraken Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The last home game of the 2021-22 season came on Friday night against the San Jose Sharks, and the Kraken played their hearts out in front of a packed Climate Pledge Arena. It was officially Fan Appreciation Night, a time for the team to give back to you, the fans, for straight up being so awesome. Go ahead, give yourself a little pat on the back, you deserve it. We love you.

The Kraken love you too, and they proved it by not letting the crowd down even one time all game. Chris Driedger pitched his first shutout of the season, stopping all 24 shots he faced on the way to a 3-0 victory for Seattle.

Yanni Gourde opened the scoring for Seattle early in the first to cap off a rush chance that started way back in the Kraken’s own zone. Dennis Cholowski jumped up into the play to open up a little space, and Karson Kuhlman didn’t hesitate to get the puck to Gourde who fired it home in the top corner.

Kuhlman has looked very solid on that line with Gourde and McCann, two of the Kraken’s best forwards. He’s a restricted free agent after this season, and he certainly appears to have played his way into a contract extension from the Kraken. And we also need to shout out Cholowski for getting his first official point with the Kraken since being selected in the expansion draft all those months ago.

Adam Larsson extended the lead to 2-0 later in the first with a bomb from the left circle.

Matty Beniers does a great job creating a turnover in the neutral zone here before getting back into the offensive zone. He carries it long enough for the rest of his linemates to get set up, and a little tic-tac-toe passing later and we’ve got ourselves a 2-0 lead for the good guys.

Chris Driedger was tested more in the second, but made every save he needed to in order to preserve the shutout. A little penalty trouble led to an extended 5-on-3 for the Sharks in the middle frame, but the penalty killing unit was up to the task. They blocked three shots en route to a big kill to keep the lead at 2, and it was largely smooth sailing from there on out. The Kraken gave their fans the first shutout in Climate Pledge Arena history.

The postgame festivities were bigger and better than ever in celebration of what was, despite the ups and downs, a genuinely fun first season of Seattle hockey.

The players were even generous enough to give fans the jerseys right off their backs. A really cool gesture, but personally I wouldn’t have minded them being sent through a quick wash cycle before being handed a game-worn jersey.

The Kraken also handed out a few awards to honor some key contributors to this team. The Pete Muldoon Award for the MVP of the Kraken, as voted on by members of the Kraken media, went to Jared McCann. McCann set career highs in goals, assists, points, and ice time. His 27 goals were the most on the team by a fairly comfortable margin.

The Guyle Fielder Award — given to the player that “best exhibits the qualities of perseverance, hustle and dedication to hockey,” as voted by the team — went to Yanni Gourde. Gourde finished 2nd on the team in scoring and led all forwards in ice time per game, playing significant minutes in all three phases — even strength, power play, and on the penalty kill.

The Three Stars Award, given to the player who got to yeet the most fish during postgame celebrations, somewhat ironically went to Philipp Grubauer. Grubauer had a real rough season by his standards, but when he was on his game, boy he was on his game. He stole a couple wins for the Kraken and was rightly awarded with a star of the game several times.

Finally, there was the Fan Favorite Award, given to the MVP of the team as decided by you, the fans. This one also went to Yanni Gourde, the guy who plays the style that makes him a favorite if he’s on your team and the least favorite to play against. We love that smile and can’t wait to see it more next year. Perhaps it’ll come with a “C” on his chest...

The Kraken have one more game this year — a road trip to Winnipeg on Sunday. That one starts bright and early at 11am Pacific time. Let’s hope it goes as well as the home finale went.