SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (12-18-0-2) vs STOCKTON HEAT (21-7-2-3)
SATURDAY, JAN. 11 | 1:15 P.M. | SAP CENTER | SAN JOSE, CA
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Afternoon Delight: The Barracuda continue their four-game homestand on Saturday afternoon with the first of two meetings over the weekend with the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames). The Barracuda are coming off back-to-back wins but are 0-5-0-1 against the Heat this season and have been outscored 17-to-3 over the last three games after losing the first three matchups by just a goal in each. The Barracuda are 33-17-2-2 against the Flames affiliate all-time and 18-8-0-0 all-time at home versus Stockton.
Last Time Out: The Barracuda snapped its four-game home losing streak with an emphatic 9-0 win over the Ontario Reign on Wednesday night at the SAP Center. Wednesday marked the second time in which the Barracuda won a game 9-0, the third time in which they’ve scored nine goals in a game and the five-goal second period set a new franchise watermark. In the win, nine different skaters recorded multiple points and Dylan Gambrell led the way with four points (one goal, three assists) while Joachim Blichfeld netted a pair. Also, Trevor Carrick potted the game-winner, added a pair of assists and finished with a team-best plus-five rating. Zachary Sawchenko earned his first AHL shutout and his second consecutive win by making 24 saves on 24 shots.
Heat Check: The Heat enter Saturday with the AHL’s second best road-winning percentage (12-3-0-2 = .765%) and a league-best +23 goal-differential on visiting ice this season. In addition, Stockton is first in the AHL when scoring the game’s first goal (14-1-2-2 = .861%), first on the power-play (34/126 = 27%), third on the penalty kill (125/145 = 86.2%) and first in goals-per-game (4.03).
A Career Capped: Before the Barracuda’s game on Dec. 29, captain John McCarthy, 33, announced he was going call it a career after 11 seasons due to health reasons. McCarthy suffered an Ischemic stroke on December 10th and has since made a full recovery. He joined the Barracuda’s coaching staff immediately after the announcement. McCarthy will go down as the San Jose’s Sharks all-time AHL leader in games played (552) [Worcester, San Jose], goals (125), assists (164), and points (289) and the Barracuda’s all-time leader in games played (275), goals (62), assists (76), points (138), power-play goals (17), and shorthanded goals (5). Also, McCarthy skated in 88 NHL games with Sharks between 2009-2016, accumulating six points (three goals, three assists) and 22 penalty minutes. The Boston native also captained the 2009 Boston University Terriers to a National Championship and skated for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Hey Now You’re an All-Star: Last Friday, rookie forward Joachim Blichfeld was named to the 2020 AHL All-Star game, joining Jake Middleton, Francis Perron, Josef Korenar, Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Carpenter, Troy Grosenick, Danny O'Regan, Antoine Bibeau, and Rudolfs Balcers as players to represent the Barracuda at the AHL All-Star Classic. Blichfeld, 21, has appeared in 25 games with the Barracuda this season and currently leads the team in goals (13), is second in points (24) and is first in power-play goals (4). In addition, he is pacing the Barracuda in points-per-game (.96). Among AHL rookies, the Denmark native is second in points-per-game, tied for sixth in goals and tied for seventh in points. The Sharks recalled Blichfeld before their game against Columbus on Thursday after his two-goal performance for the Barracuda on Wednesday.
Goalie Swap: Prior to last Tuesday’s game, the Barracuda recalled goaltender Zachary Sawchenko from the Allen Americans and he made his AHL debut on Saturday, stopping 37/41 en-route to a 5-4 OTW against the Tucson Roadrunners. Sawchenko made 24 saves to earn his first AHL shutout on Wednesday and is now 2-0 since his recall. Prior to his recall, Sawchenko had appeared in 13 games with the Americans, going 8-2-3, with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, with a pair of shutouts. The Barracuda signed Sawchenko to a two-year deal on March 29, 2019. In a corresponding move, the team assigned goaltender Andrew Shortridge to the Americans.
Halbs Heating Up: Jayden Halbgewachs netted a pair of goals on Saturday and added a goal and an assist on Wednesday. Halbgewachs is second on the Barracuda in goals (12), is first in game-winners (3), and first in overtime goals (2). Two years ago, as a 20-year-old, Halbgewachs led the CHL in scoring (129) and finished first in the WHL in goals (70) as a member of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Maxed Out: Sophomore forward Max Letunov recorded his second three-point-game (one goal, two assists) of the season on Saturday and the fourth of his career. The former Connecticut Huskie now leads the team in points (26) and assists (18). Letunov has already surpassed his assist totals from his rookie season in 26 fewer games. The Sharks originally acquired Letunov from the Arizona Coyotes in a draft-day trade in 2016.
Youth Movement: The Barracuda are the AHL’s youngest roster with an average age of 22.48-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 ).