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Tonight’s Matchup: For the first time since 2015-16, the Barracuda kick off a season at SAP Center at San Jose as they host the Ontario Reign (LA Kings) for the first of eight meetings on the year. San Jose went 2-5-1-0 a season ago against the Reign and are 10-13-5-0 since the Pacific Division was created in 2015. Ontario is the only team San Jose is not .500 or better against all-time.
Frenemies: Former teammates and Calder Cup Champions with the Maine Mariners (AHL) during the 1983-84 season, Roy Sommer and Mike Stothers have enjoyed a friendship off the ice and a heated rivalry on it since Stothers took over as the head coach of the Kings top affiliate during the 2014-15 season where he propelled the Manchester Monarchs to a Calder Cup Championship in his first year. Over five years, Sommer is 14-20-5-1 against Stothers’ teams.
Dynamic Duo: The LA Kings re-acquired Peter Budaj from the Tampa Bay Lightning this offseason, pairing him with Cal Petersen as a one-two punch in the AHL. Budaj was the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year (Baz Bastien Memorial Award) in 2015-16 as a member of the Ontario Reign, leading the league in GAA (1.75), SV% (.932), shutouts (9), and wins (42). As a rookie 2017-18, Petersen, an AHL All-Star, went 4-0-1 against San Jose in five games.
Youth Movement: The Barracuda open up the 2018-19 season as the AHL’s youngest roster with an average age of 22.7 years old, which is comprised of 10 rookies. Ontario is the leagues 20th youngest roster at 24.38 years old. 13 players on San Jose’s 25-man opening night roster skated in at least one game for San Jose a year ago.
BIG trade: On June 14, Sharks GM Doug Wilson traded forward Adam Helewka to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for 6-5, 235-pound defenseman Kyle Wood. Two seasons ago, Wood was named to the AHL All-Rookie team after collecting 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) from the blueline.
National Pride: With the offseason signings of Vincent Praplan (Switzerland) and Lukas Radil (Czech Republic), along with the return of Captain John McCarthy, San Jose’s opening night roster will be comprised of three different skaters who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.