SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (11-18-0-2) vs ONTARIO REIGN (16-15-3-1)
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 8 | 7:00 P.M. | SAP CENTER | SAN JOSE, CA
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Wednesday Night Rivalry: The Barracuda return home on Wednesday for the first time in 2020 as the Ontario Reign (LA Kings) make their third visit to the SAP Center. The Barracuda are 1-3-0-1 against the Reign this season after a 4-3 loss in the most recent matchup on Dec. 18.
Last Time Out: Despite falling into a two-goal deficit on Saturday in Tucson, the Barracuda managed to storm back in the 1st period and take a 3-2 lead after opening-period goals from Manny Wiederer, Jonny Brodzinski, and Jayden Halbgewachs. Despite each team having lengthy five-on-three power plays in the 2nd, the game remained 3-2 until 3:12 of the 3rd when Jordan Gross lit the lamp for the second time in the game. Max Letunov would regain the Barracuda’s lead at 18:15, but the Roadrunners would force overtime by scoring with the extra-attacker at 19:45 as Beau Bennett cashed in. In overtime, the Barracuda were outshot 5-2 but Jayden Halbgewachs would secure two points with his second OT winner of the year at 4:32. Zachary Sawchenko made 37 saves in AHL debut to pick up the 5-4 overtime victory.
Reign Report: Entering Wednesday, the Reign sit at the fourth spot in the AHL’s Pacific Division, 12 points ahead of the Barracuda and are coming off a 2-1 win over the Stockton Heat on Saturday night. Ontario is 27th in the AHL in goals-for-per-game (2.63), 30th in goals-against-per-game (3.63), 25th on the power-play (19/135= 14.1%) and 29th on the penalty kill (131/169= 77.5%). Against the Barracuda, Ontario is 33.3% (6/18) on the PP and 84.8% (11/13) on the PK and are averaging 4.2 goals-per-game and 3.6 goals-against-per-game. The Barracuda set a franchise record for road-goals-for in a 9-2 win over Ontario on Dec. 7.
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: On 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 24 games with the Barracuda this season and currently co-leads the team in goals (11), is second in points (22) and is tied for first in power-play goals (3). In addition, he is pacing the Barracuda in points-per-game (.92) for skaters who have appeared in three or more games. Among AHL rookies, the Denmark native is first in points-per-game among skaters who have appeared in five or more games, and ninth in points.
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. 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. In a corresponding move, the team assigned goaltender Andrew Shortridge to the Americans. The Barracuda signed Sawchenko to a two-year deal on March 29, 2019.
Halbs Heating Up: Jayden Halbgewachs netted a pair of goals on Saturday, including the OTW and now co-leads the Barracuda in goals (11), 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), assists (18) and is T-first in power-play goals (3). Letunov has already surpassed his assist totals from his rookie season in 27 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 ).