San Jose Barracuda (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (0-0)
GAME 1 (Best-of-7), Western Conference Finals
Saturday, May 20, 2017 (6:00 PM) – SAP Center, San Jose, Calif.
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Tonight’s Matchup: On Saturday, the San Jose Barracuda and Grand Rapids Griffins kick off their best-of-7 Western Conference Final series after each team needed just five games to advance past the second round.
Head-To-Head: In two games played during the regular season, the Barracuda went 2-0 against the Griffs, including a 1-0 shootout win at SAP Center on March 11. 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 Spence Ausuchak (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.
Powering Up: After going just 1-for-22 on the man advantage in round one, San Jose went 7-for-17 in round two against the Gulls. During the regular season, the Barracuda finished with the league's second-best power play (23.8%).
Postseason Push: The Barracuda finished off the San Diego Gulls in five games after dropping game one in overtime. The Barracuda are 7-4 during the playoffs this year and 8-7 over the last two seasons and are on a four-game winning streak.
Carpenter Crushing It: Barracuda forward Ryan Carpenter continues his red-hot postseason. During the playoffs, Carpenter leads the AHL in points (13), goals (7), T-eighth in assists (6), second in plus/minus (+8) and T-first in game-winning goals (2). In 18 career Calder Cup playoff games, Carpenter has 18 points (9+9=18), eight penalty minutes and a plus-13 rating.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Troy Grosenick made 34 saves to earn his second shutout of the playoffs last Saturday in San Diego, propelling San Jose to the third round. Grosenick led the AHL in shutouts during the regular season (10) and 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.