The 2017-18 San Jose Barracuda overcame youth, inexperience, injuries and near impossible odds to make the playoffs for the third-straight year.
Playoff Push: On April 4, the Barracuda had less than a .01% chance of making the playoffs, but six-straight wins lifted San Jose above four teams in the division over a 10-day period, punching a ticket to the Calder Cup playoffs for the third straight season.
Let’s Go Streaking: The Barracuda finished the regular-season riding a season-long six-game winning streak as they outscored their opponents 25-to-10 over that span, netting power-play goals in five of the six contests.
Power Surge: Before failing to score on the power play in the season finale at Stockton on April 14, the Barracuda lit the lamp on the man-advantage for a franchise-record 10-straight games, going 13-for-39 (33%) over that stretch.
Young Guns: San Jose’s late-season surge was sparked by a pair of rookie forwards, Sasha Chmelevski and Ivan Chekhovich. Chmelevski, the first Californian to play in a game for the Barracuda, tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in six regular season games, while Chekhovich registered points in all six regular season games (three goals, six assists) he played and finished with the teams best plus/minus rating (+8).
Captain America: When Captain John McCarthy was at the Winter Olympics in February representing Team USA in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Barracuda sputtered without their leader, going 2-6-1-1 in the month. When he returned, San Jose went 12-5-1-1. McCarthy signed a one-year contract extension in mid-April, which means he’ll return for his tenth season with the organization in 2018-19. McCarthy is the Barracuda’s all-time leader in games played (190), T-first in goals (45), T-first in power-play goals (15), and T-first in short-handed goals (4).
Mighty Midds: Sophomore defenseman Jake Middleton finished third among all Barracuda skaters in points (28) and first among defenseman. Middleton netted a career-high six goals and added 22 assists while finishing second on the team in penalty minutes in 2017-18. Middleton was a key contributor to the Leagues eighth best penalty-killing unit.
Bergy Bombs: Julius Bergman set a career-high in goals scored (10) in 2017-18, leading the Barracuda defensive corps in goals, power-play goals (6), and game-winning goals (3). Before this season, Bergman had six combined tallies over two years in the AHL.
Simmering: In his first year in the AHL, Radim Simek finished second on the Barracuda in defensive scoring (27), second in goals (7), second in assists (20), first in shorthanded goals (1), T-first power-play assists (7), and first in plus/minus (+6). Simek signed a two-year extension earlier this month with the Sharks.
True of False?: Rookie forward Alex True finished second on the Barracuda in goals (15), T-third points (28), and second in power-play goals (7). True scored both goals for the Barracuda in a do-or-die 2-1 win over the Stockton Heat on April 14, keeping hopes alive for playoff contention on the final day of the regular season. The Tucson Roadrunners beat the San Diego Gulls later that night, and the Barracuda snuck into the Pacific Division’s final playoff spot.
Deadline Deals: On February 24, the San Jose Sharks shipped the AHL’s Top Goaltender in 2016-17, Troy Grosenick, along with forward Brandon Bollig to the Nashville Predators for a 2018 sixth-round draft pick. Also, on February 26, the Sharks packaged the AHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2016-17, Danny O’Regan, along with a pair of conditional draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres for forward Evander Kane.
Call Of Duty: In 2017-18, six players appeared in games for both the Barracuda and Sharks (Danny O'Regan, Marcus Sorensen, Tim Heed, Kevin Labanc, Paul Martin and Joakim Ryan).
Blueline Bolster: 19% (36/186) of San Jose’s goals scored in 2017-18 came from its backend, compared to 15% (35/232) from its defense a season ago. In 2016-17, San Jose had the AHL’s most potent offense that included NHLer Joakim Ryan and Second Team All-AHLer Tim Heed on the blueline.
Age Is Just A Number: With an average age of 22.57-years-old, San Jose boasted the AHL’s youngest roster in 2017-18.
Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!: Rookie forward Rudolfs Balcers finished his first pro season ranked seventh in points (48) among AHL freshman, T-fifth in goals (23), and T-14th in assists (25). During the regular season, Balcers paced the Barracuda in points, goals, points-per-game (.72), and power-play goals (8). Balcers is the sixth player in Barracuda history to reach the 20-goal mark in a season, joining Brian Lerg (21) ’15-16, Nikolay Goldobin (21) ’15-16, Barclay Goodrow (20) ’15-16, Danny O’Regan (23) ’16-17, and Barclay Goodrow (25) ’16-17.
Big-Time Bibeau: Antoine Bibeau finished his first season in San Jose ranked 10th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.37), 11th in save-percentage (.919), T-sixth in wins (23), and T-third in shutouts (5). Bibeau was named a mid-season AHL All-Star and finished the regular season riding a four-game winning streak.
700 For Sommer: San Jose Barracuda Head Coach and Bay Area native Roy Sommer collected the 700th AHL win of his career on Dec. 3 at Bakersfield (2-1). Sommer is the first coach in the 82-year history of the American Hockey League to reach 700 coaching wins. In 2015-16, Sommer surpassed Fred “Bun” Cook as the AHL’s all-time leader in wins and collected his first A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year in 2016-17. Sommer, who’s in his AHL record 20th season behind the bench for the top affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, coached his 1,500th game in the AHL on Dec. 8 at SAP Center against Tucson.