LISTEN | WATCH | GAME NOTES
Afternoon Matchup: On Saturday, the San Jose Barracuda take on the hottest team in the American Hockey League when they clash with the Manitoba Moose for the first time this season north of the border. San Jose is 1-1-0-0 against the Winnipeg Jets affiliate this season, 5-1-0-0 all-time and 2-0-0-0 in the ‘Peg.
Last Time Out: San Jose used six different goal scorers including three goals from the defense to upend the top team in the Pacific the Stockton Heat, 6-5, in overtime on Thursday. Michael Brodzinski, Jon Martin, Danny O’Regan, Julius Bergman, Nick DeSimone, and Rudolfs Balcers each scored in the win, and Parker Gahagen collected the victory after making 24 saves on 29 shots.
Moose Tracks: The Manitoba Moose are riding a six-game winning streak and have points in an AHL high 16 in a row. Manitoba’s last loss came at San Jose on November 12 (4-1) in which the Moose put a season-low 18 shots on net. Manitoba’s plus-58 goal differential ranks first in the AHL and is twice as good as its closest competitor the Charlotte Checkers (plus-24). Manitoba’s 65 goals against is also top in the league, and its 123 goals is good for third in the AHL. The Moose’s last defeat came on December 9 against the Milwaukee Admirals (4-3 SO).
Killing It: The Barracuda are 16 for their last 16 on the penalty kill and have been perfect in their last four games. The Barracuda rank fifth in the AHL on the penalty kill (86.6) and first in the Pacific Division. The Moose have four goals in their last two games on the man-advantage and rank second in the league on the power play (23.7%) and second on the penalty kill (23.7%).
Reindeer Games: Freshman forward, Rudolfs Balcers netted Thursday nights game winner and now ranks T-ninth in the AHL among first-year players in points (22), and T-fifth in assists (15). Balcers leads the Barracuda in points, and assists, and is tied with Danny O’Regan for the team lead in points. Balcers has four goals over his last four games. A season ago, Balcers led all WHL rookies in goals (40) with the Kamloops Blazers. The Sharks selected the Latvian forward in the fifth round (#142 overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Bibeau’s Block Party: Barracuda netminder Antoine Bibeau ranks fourth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17), 10th in save percentage (.920), and T-first in shutouts (2). Bibeau spent the first three seasons of his pro career within the Toronto Maple Leafs organization before signing with San Jose as a free agent this offseason.
700 For Sommer: San Jose Barracuda Head Coach and Bay Area native Roy Sommer collected his 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 last on Dec. 8 at SAP Center against Tucson.
Cuda Call Up: Six players from the Barracuda’s 2017 Calder Cup playoff roster are now on the San Jose Sharks (Marcus Sorensen, Tim Heed, Barclay Goodrow, Timo Meier, Joakim Ryan and Kevin Labanc). A season ago, the Barracuda finished with the Western Conference’s best regular season winning percentage (.699) and advanced to the Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Grand Rapids Griffins in five games.