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San Jose Barracuda (31-18-2-4 .618) vs. Colorado Eagles (32-22-3-1 .586)
SAT, MAR. 16 | 1:15 PM
SAP Center at San Jose | San Jose, CA
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Sky High in Colorado: The San Jose Barracuda and Colorado Eagles square off for the fifth time on the eight-game season series on Saturday afternoon at the SAP Center. San Jose is 2-0-1-1 against the Avalanche affiliate this season and are coming off a 3-1 win in the last meeting on December 27. Over San Jose’s final 13 games, the Barracuda will take on the Eagles four times over that span. Colorado has won eight straight entering Saturday and hold a nine-point lead on Tucson for the fourth spot in the Pacific Division. The Avalanche have not sent an AHL affiliate to the Calder Cup Playoffs since 2011 (Lake Erie Monsters).
Comeback Kids: The Barracuda snapped their season-long four-game skid on Sunday by erasing a 4-1 deficit in the third period before picking up a 5-4 shootout win over the Heat. Sunday’s game wrapped up the 12-game season series against the Flames affiliate and improved the Barracuda to a 10-2 record against Stockton this season… matching the most points earned against the Heat in one year (2015-16: 9-1-1-1). In the win, Antoine Bibeau snapped his five-game winless drought, Alex True collected his team-leading 21st tally and Francis Perron netted a regulation strike and the shootout winner to improve San Jose to 4-4 in shootouts this season.
The Road Ahead: The Barracuda boast the Western Conference’s toughest strength of schedule down the final stretch of the season (.577) but have the most games remaining in the division. Of San Jose’s final 13 games, 6 of them are at the SAP Center. Entering Saturday, San Jose, San Diego, and Colorado all have 68 points.
Gambo Goin’: The Sharks reassigned rookie center-ice man Dylan Gambrell to the Barracuda on Friday after joining the Sharks on their road trip earlier in the week. Gambrell had totaled 14 points over his last 11 games, including a pair of multi-goal efforts. The former Denver Pioneer ranks T-12th in the AHL among rookies in points (38), T-seventh in goals (16) and 11th in points-per-game (.95). The Sharks selected the 22-year-old in the second round (#60 overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft.
True That: On Sunday, Alex True netted his team-leading 21st goal of the year, tying for the fourth most in a single season in franchise history. True is now T-third in Barracuda history in goals (36 – Nikolay Goldobin) and is pacing San Jose in points (47), goals, third in assists (26), multi-point games (10), T-first in plus/minus (+13), second in points-per-game (.85) and T-third in shots (116).
Tough Guy: Rookie forward Jeffrey Viel ranks third in the AHL in major penalties (8) and is first among all freshmen. In addition, Viel is T-first among first-year players in penalty minutes (86). As the captain of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan last year, Viel who signed with the Barracuda as a free agent this offseason, he led the Titan to a Memorial Cup Championship while earning QMJHL Playoff MVP Honors (Guy Lafleur Trophy).
Dezzy Dishin’: San Jose sophomore d-man Nick DeSimone ranks T-11th in the AHL in points (37) among blueliners, T-ninth in goals (10) and is T-12th in power-play goals (4). Among all Barracuda skaters, the East Amherst, New York native is fourth in points, T-fourth in goals, T-first in assists (27), fourth in power-play goals, and first in shots (120).