San Jose Barracuda (1-3) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (3-1)
GAME 5 (Best-of-7), Western Conference Finals
Saturday, May 27, 2017 (4:00 PM PST) – Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Do Or Die: On Saturday, the Barracuda and Griffins continue their best-of-7 Western Conference Finals with the Griffs leading the series 3-1. San Jose claimed game two on Sunday, 4-2, but have since fallen in back-to-back games at Van Andel Arena and are on the brink of elimination. The Griffins are 6-0 at home during the playoffs after a 6-2 win on Friday night.
Head-To-Head: In two games played during the regular season, the Barracuda went 2-0 against the Griffs, including a 4-1 win at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 27 despite getting outshot 44-to-28. San Jose went 1-for-5 on the power play during the two games and 7-for-7 on the penalty kill. Julius Bergman led all skaters with two points (1+1=2), and Troy Grosenick went 2-0 with a 0.48 goals-against average and a .985 save percentage. The Barracuda finished the regular season as the Western Conferences top team with a record of 43-16-4-5, while Grand Rapids finished second in the Central and fourth in the Western Conference with a record of 47-23-1-5.
Uncharted Territory: Aside for Zack Stortini who won a Calder Cup in 2007 with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the San Jose Barracuda don’t have a single player on their roster with Conference finals experience. For Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, who has been behind the bench for the San Jose Sharks top developmental affiliate for 19 seasons and is the AHL’s all-time leader in wins, this will be his first appearance in the Conference Finals as well. The 1991-92 Kansas City Blades (IHL) are the only Sharks top affiliate to win a championship.
Been there: It hasn’t been in the AHL, but the Barracuda do have some championship resumes on their roster. Defenseman Tim Heed won a SHL Championship in 2014 with Skelleftea. Dan Kelly (OHL) in 2008, Rourke Chartier (WHL) in 2015, and Timo Meier (QMJHL) in 2016 all reached the Memorial Cup during their junior careers in the CHL, and Joakim Ryan won a Clarke Cup (USHL) with the Dubuque Fighting Saints (2011). Captain John McCarthy won a National Championship with Boston University in (2009), and Nikita Jevpalovs (2016) and Spencer Asuchak (2015/2016) have won Kelly Cups with the Allen Americans in the ECHL.
Grand Expectations: The Grand Rapids Griffins have made the Conference Finals three times in the last five years. The Griffins won the Calder Cup in 2013 and have made the playoffs in 15 of their 21 years of existence.
Carpenter Crushing It: Barracuda forward Ryan Carpenter continues his red-hot postseason. During the playoffs, Carpenter is third in points (17), T-first in goals (9), ninth in assists (8), T-seventh in plus/minus (+7) and T-second in game-winning goals (2). In 21 career Calder Cup playoff games, Carpenter has 22 points (11+11=22), eight penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating.
Last Time Out: The San Jose Barracuda opened up Friday nights scoring with a penalty shot goal off the stick of Colin Blackwell, but the Griffins outscored San Jose over the next two periods 6-to-1 and took a pivotal game four with a 6-2 win at Van Andel Arena. Tyler Bertuzzi, Eric Tangradi, Tomas Nosek, Martin Frk, Ben Street, and Evgeni Svechnikov all scored for the Griffs while Adam Helewka netted a power play-goal in the third for the Barracuda.