Whoo-hoo, Cheechoo!

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:14 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames may be Canada's team.

 The Calgary Flames may be Canada's team.

 Not with Jonathan Cheechoo leading the charge for the San Jose Sharks.

 The Moose Factory product has captured the hearts of friends and family back home to put the Sharks on the map in the tiny, remote town of Northern Ontario.

 "Definitely," said the San Jose right-winger.

 "There are a lot of people up there who have bought the satellite dishes so they can watch some of my games and everyone there is real excited about how we're doing and the season that we have had. So they're cheering us on.

 "I called my grandparents and stuff and they're pretty excited back home. I think they sold about 300 signs -- San Jose Sharks signs -- that are up in windows in the community."

 The community, located 186 miles north of Timmins, Ont., on the southern tip of James Bay, is comprised mostly of Cree nation peoples.

 And like Nashville Predators rookie Jordan Tootoo of the Inuk nation, the 23-year-old Cheechoo has made the Cree proud.

 "Oh, just always try to keep them positive," said Cheechoo, when asked about giving advice to the youth back home. "That they can -- as long as they believe and set goals. That anything can happen because I left when I was 14 and I had some goals set I wanted to achieve and I worked toward them. I think it gives you something to work towards."

 Cheechoo himself is working towards a Stanley Cup in only his second NHL season. Even a berth in the Cup final would be an accomplishment for the Sharks, who are enjoying the best run of their 13-year history.

 And that run is not lost on the sophomore Cheechoo.

 "It's been a lot of fun," Cheechoo said. "I got two great teachers on my line, Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton, who are always willing to give me some advice. I take anything I can learn from them because I used to watch those guys playing when I was younger. I like how Scott Thornton and Mike Ricci battle along the boards. So any tips I take is just a plus."

 Certainly, the veteran pair promotes a sense of work ethic and defensive responsibility that complements Cheechoo's feisty side.

 And, offensively, he's already proving he has firepower, after totalling 28 goals and 47 points this past regular season.

 Cheechoo also has four goals and 10 points in these playoffs going into last night's Game 5 in San Jose.

 "Cheechoo? He's awesome," said Flames right-winger Shean Donovan, a Timmins product.

 "He's scored a lot of goals this season and he scored a big goal for them (Sunday). He's a guy who sometimes is all over the place but he finds a way to get there and he does a good job for them.

 "He's one of the reasons why they've been so good this year."


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