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Tonight’s Matchup: On Saturday, the Barracuda wrap up the 2017-18 regular season schedule at Stockton in the final meeting of 12 between the clubs. The Barracuda are 6-4-1-0 against the Calgary Flames affiliate this year and have won the last two meetings. Both teams are mathematically still alive for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division but will need a regulation loss by San Diego and a win Saturday to get into the postseason.
Young Guns: On April 4, Sasha Chmelevski and Ivan Chekhovich made their pro debuts, and both forwards found the back of the net on their first shots in the opening period. On Thursday, Chmelevski and Chekhovich each scored again and now have a combined 12 points (six goals, six assists) in five games. Chekhovich (three goals, five assists) has points in all five AHL games he’s played and ranks first on the Barracuda with a plus-eight rating.
Powering Up: On Wednesday, the Barracuda lit the lamp on the man-advantage for a franchise-record 10th-straight game. Over the 10-game stretch, San Jose has gone 13-for-39 (33%) on the man-advantage, and since March 1 they've moved from 30th in the league on the power play to T-19th.
Killing It: After going two-for-two on the PK on Wednesday, the Barracuda have now killed off 18-straight penalties including a perfect 12-for-12 stretch in April. The Barracuda hold the Pacific’s best penalty kill and rank T-fourth overall in the AHL (84.3%).
Youth Movement: With an average age of 22.78 years old, San Jose is the AHL’s second youngest team in the league only behind the San Antonio Rampage who average 22.76-years-old. 13 of San Jose’s 27 players on their roster are AHL rookies.
Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!: Rookie forward Rudolfs Balcers is riding a five-game point streak and now ranks seventh in points (48) among AHL freshman, T-fourth in goals (23), and T-12th in assists (25). Balcers leads the Barracuda in points, goals, and points-per-game (.73), power-play goals (8), and T-first in game-winning goals (5). Balcers is the sixth player in Barracuda history to reach the 20-goal mark in a season (Brian Lerg (21) ’15-16, Nikolay Goldobin (21) ’15-16, Barclay Goodrow (20) ’15-16, Danny O’Regan (23) ’16-17, Barclay Goodrow (25) ’16-17). Balcers goal on Wednesday against Bakersfield tied him with O’Regan for the most goals scored in a season by a Barracuda rookie.
Sommer-Time: 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. During his playing career, Sommer played nine games with the IHL’s Grand Rapids Owls during the 1979-80 season.