SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (10-14-0-2) vs STOCKTON HEAT (17-5-2-3)
FRIDAY, DEC. 27 | 1:15 P.M. | SAP CENTER | SAN JOSE, CA
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Fri(DAY) matchup: On Friday, the Barracuda return to the ice after the holiday break to play host to the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames) for the fifth time this season and the second time at the SAP Center. The Heat enter Friday with points in six-straight games (4-0-1-1) and have won all four prior meetings between the two Northern California rivals this season.
Last Time Out: Last Friday, in San Diego, the Barracuda snapped a three-game skid with a 4-2 win over the San Diego Gulls at the Pechanga Arena, erasing a 1-0 deficit entering the third period. In the victory, Joachim Blichfeld, Keaton Middleton, Jayden Halbgewachs and Alex True (EN, SH) all scored and Andrew Shortridge put together his best performance as a pro stopping 25 of 27 en-route to the win and the game’s first star.
Welcome Back: On Sunday, the Sharks reassigned forwards Noah Gregor, Joel Kellman, and defenseman Jake Middleton back down to the AHL. Kellman made his NHL debut on December 21 against St. Louis, logging nine minutes and 25 seconds of ice time.
Blichfeld Beasting: On Friday, Joachim Blichfeld netted his team-leading 11th goal, extending his point streak to five games (4+5=9). Blichfeld leads the Barracuda in goals (11) and points (22) and co-leads the team in power-play goals (3) and points-per-game (1.00). Among AHL rookies, Blichfeld is first in points-per-game (1.00), tied for sixth in scoring, T-fifth in goals and T-fifth in power-play goals. Last year, Blichfeld led the WHL in scoring (53 goals, 61 assists) and was named the WHL Player of the Year (Four Broncos Trophy) as a member of the Portland Winterhawks. The Sharks selected the Denmark native with the second-to-last pick (210th) in the 2016 NHL draft.
Maxed Out: Sophomore forward Max Letunov was held off the scoresheet on Friday but still ranks second on the Barracuda in points (21) and is tied for first in power-play goals (3) and game-winners (2). Prior to Friday, Letunov had recorded points in 11 of his last 12 games (3+12=15) and was riding a four-game point streak (1+3=4). The Sharks originally acquired Letunov from the Arizona Coyotes in a draft-day trade in 2016.
Blueline Bolster: Sophomore blueliner Thomas Gregoire is fourth on the Barracuda in points (19), first in assists (16), T-third in power-play goals (2), first in power-play assists (6) and fourth in points-per-game (.73). Among AHL defensemen, Gregoire is T-eighth in points, T-eighth in assists, and is sixth in points-per-game among skaters who have appeared in 19 or more games.
Youth Movement: The Barracuda are the AHL’s youngest roster with an average age of 22.96-years-old. No other team in the league is under 23-years-old. In fact, seven players on the 'Cuda roster are 21-years-old or younger, including two players under 21 (Sasha Chmelevski  and Ivan Chekhovich ).