San Jose Barracuda (23-8-2-3 .714) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (24-13-3-4 .625)
FRIDAY, JAN. 25 | 4:00 P.M.
Van Andel Arena | Grand Rapids, Mich.
LISTEN | WATCH | GAME NOTES
Grand Matchup: On Friday, the San Jose Barracuda and Grand Rapids Griffins square off for the first time in 2018-19 and the first of two meetings on the weekend. The Barracuda and Griffins have met in the regular season in each of the last three years and collided in the Western Conference Finals two years ago. San Jose is 2-1-0-1 all-time in the regular season against the Red Wings affiliate and 1-0-0-1 at the Van Andel Arena. Against Central opponents this year, San Jose is 4-0 and 20-10-2-0 all-time.
Road Warriors: Friday marks the first game of a three-game road trip after San Jose finished up its five-game homestand on Monday at the SAP Center. The Barracuda boast the Pacific’s best road winning percentage at .676 (10-4-1-2) and are 5-2-1-2 over their last 10 on visiting ice. In addition, SJ has a +9-goal differential which also ranks first in the Division. Meanwhile, Grand Rapids holds the best home record in the AHL (15-3-1-3 = .773) and are riding a six-game home point streak (5-0-0-1) entering Friday.
Powering Up: With Cavan Fitzgerald’s power-play strike on Sunday, San Jose has now scored on the man-advantage in four-straight games (4/14 = 28%). In addition to a recently improved power play, the Barracuda rank sixth overall (83.9%) on the penalty kill this season.
Welcome Back: On Tuesday, the Sharks reassigned AHL All-Star Jake Middleton and standout rookie Dylan Gambrell back to the Barracuda. Gambrell ranks third on the Barracuda in scoring (24), fourth in goals (9), T-third in assists (15), T-second in power-play goals and first in points-per-game (.89). Middleton, who’s in his third pro season, made his NHL debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 5.
Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: The AHL announced earlier this month that Barracuda assistant captain Jake Middleton, winger Francis Perron, and goaltender Josef Korenar will all be heading to Springfield for the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic, which will take place on January 27-28. In addition, Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer will be the Pacific Division’s coaching representative for the AHL All-Star Classic.
True or False?: Sophomore forward Alex True collected three assists on Monday and now leads the team in points (31), second in goals (11), T-first in assists (20), second in plus/minus (+16), T-second in power-play goals, third in points-per-game (.86), and T-first in game-winners (3). True finished second on the Barracuda in goals last season (15) as a rookie and has now registered five multi-point games this season.
Two-Headed Monster: San Jose’s goalie combo of Josef Korenar and Antoine Bibeau have combined for the AHL’s best goals-against average (2.47) and save percentage (.914). The 20-year-old rookie Korenar ranks second in the AHL in GAA (2.22), sixth in SV% (.919), T-fourth in wins (14), and T-fourth in shutouts (2). Bibeau is T-11th in the league in GAA (2.63) and 12th in SV% (.912).
Francis on Fire: Acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Erik Karlsson trade, the third-year pro is second on the Barracuda in points (28), first in goals (13), T-third in assists (15), first in power-play goals (6), first in shooting percentage (26.5%), T-first in game-winning goals (3) and is T-third in plus/minus (+14).
Hard Wood: Acquired in an offseason trade with the Arizona Coyotes, Kyle Wood is T-first on the Barracuda in assists (20), first in plus/minus (+19) and is fourth in points (23). Wood was an AHL All-Star in 2016-17 and was named an AHL All-Rookie member after totaling 43 points (14g, 29a) with the Tucson Roadrunners.