Staten Island’s own Kevin Labanc is coming up huge in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the surging San Jose Sharks.
It takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and a little luck to make it to the NHL. For San Jose Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, growing up in Staten Island, NY made the odds even harder.
Labanc’s parents immigrated to Brooklyn in 1994. Kevin was born in 1995 and moved with his parents and older sister to Staten Island. He lived with other members of his extended family in crowded living quarters.
Throughout these early years, Kevin began to play hockey at local roller hockey rinks. By the age of six, he was on ice skates learning the game from his father who was a defenseman in his home country of Slovakia in the early 1990s.
Kevin went on to play for the New Jersey Rockets, then USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League and finally, the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Labanc was selected by the Sharks in the sixth round (No. 171) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
This season, his third in the NHL, he found himself struggling early in the year. However, with the help of veteran Joe Thornton, he has turned his game around.
Currently, he is playing on the right side of Thornton, with Marcus Sorensen on the left.
Labanc had a four-point game in the Sharks’ stunning 5-4 Game 7 comeback overtime victory that eliminated the Golden Knights. He also scored a fantastic goal in Game 1 against the Avalanche.
It may not be playing for a New York team, but he is representing Staten Island and all of New York City with pride and heart.
The Sharks and Avalanche are tied 1-1 with Game 3 to be played at Pepsi Center on Tuesday night.