San Jose Barracuda (1-1) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (1-1)
GAME 3 (Best-of-7), Western Conference Finals
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 (4:00 PM PST) – Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Tonight’s Matchup: On Wednesday, the Barracuda and Griffins shift their best-of-7 Western Conference Finals series to Michigan all tied at 1-1. San Jose claimed game two on Sunday, 4-2, after falling in game one. The Griffins are 4-0 at Van Andel Arena during the playoffs, while the Barracuda are 4-1 on the road during the postseason and have won three in a row.
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.
Powering Up: After going 0-for-6 on the power play in game one of the west finals, San Jose went 3-for-5 in game two, including beginning Sunday’s game 2-for-2 up a man. Since round one against Stockton, in which San Jose went 1-for-22 (4.5%) on the PP, the Barracuda are 10-for-28 (35.7%) over their last two rounds. During the regular season, the Barracuda boasted the AHL’s second best power play (65-for-223) at 23.8%, only behind Grand Rapids (80-for-328 = 24.4%).
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 Alex Schoenborn (WHL) in 2013, 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 leads the AHL in points (16), goals (8), T-second in assists (8), T-first in plus/minus (+9) and first in game-winning goals (3). In 19 career Calder Cup playoff games, Carpenter has 22 points (10+11=21), eight penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Troy Grosenick made 33 saves to his eighth win of the playoffs. Grosenick has a pair of shutouts during the playoffs after leading the AHL with 10 donuts during the regular season. During the regular season, Grosenick finished third in goals-against average (2.04), second in save percentage (.926) and second in wins (30). Grosenick was named the AHL’s Most Outstanding Goaltender (‘Baz’ Bastien Memorial Award) for 2016-17.