SAN JOSE - It's becoming a regular occurrence.
Every so many games the Flyers play, they run into a former collegian who played under Dave Hakstol.
The latest was 27-year-old Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, who played against the Flyers for the first time on Friday night. He had not started a game in three weeks. He nailed his first career shutout, 2-0, against his former coach with 22 saves (see story).
"He's worked very hard to gain every opportunity and I'm pleased for him that it is paying off," Hakstol said after the game.
Born in Airdrie, Alberta, Dell played for Hakstol at North Dakota for three years, leading the Fighting Sioux to the 2010-11 WCHA Championship.
"A little extra motivation," Dell said of playing against his former coach for the first time. "He recruited me to UND and it would be a little sweet to beat him after that."
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Dell recorded 30 wins with a 1.79 goals against average and .924 save percentage the season North Dakota won the WCHA title.
"He was real good in his second year at North Dakota," Hakstol said. "You have to earn it and he did. He helped us win that year."
Dell hasn't forgotten the man who gave him his big break in college.
"He gave me a chance there, and he let me kind of grow as a player and as a person," Dell said. "I think that opportunity was huge in my career.
"I got to balance school and hockey and everything with the travel, and whatnot. I think that helped me a lot to be ready to play pro."
Hakstol first saw him play in 2008-09 when Dell was playing for the Calgary Canucks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
"He has always grown and developed one step at a time," Hakstol recalled. "He played junior-B level, then a backup in the Alberta hockey league, then as a 20-year-old when we recruited him. He was playing the most minutes in the league."
Indeed, that season, Dell played an incredible 2,986 minutes for Calgary.
"He was the best goaltender in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and that kinda sums up his story. His development has been steady. And now he's having success at the NHL level."
Friday's game against the Flyers was Dell's sixth career game. He came into play 3-1 this season, with a 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Coach Peter DeBoer started him against the Flyers because the Sharks have will go with No. 1 Martin Jones on Saturday in Los Angeles as part of back-to-back games.