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Tonight’s Matchup: On Monday, the Barracuda collide with the top-seeded Tucson Roadrunners for the fourth of eight meetings on the season. San Jose is 2-1-0 against the Arizona Coyotes affiliate this year and 7-2-1-1 all-time.
Road Warriors: Tucson enters Monday’s matchup with the Pacific’s top road winning percentage (13-4-1-1 .737), and are 12-2-0 in their last 14 road games.
Young Guns: Tucson had three skaters (Dylan Strome - F, Nick Merkley - F, Kyle Capobianco - D) in this years AHL All-Star Classic, all of which are rookies. Among players who have appeared in at least 20 games, Strome and Merkely rank first and second in points-per-game (1.28, 1.21). The AHL’s rookie of the year frontrunner, Strome, is second among first-year players in points (41), third in assists (24), and fifth in goals (17), despite playing in just 32 games. Merkey is fifth among rookie scoring (35), and T-third in goals in 29 games. Capobianco is T-seventh among rookies in assists (20) and third in rookie-defense scoring (two goals, 20 assists). All three are 20-years of age and have appeared in at least one NHL game with the Coyotes.
ALL-Good: Rookie All-Star Rudolfs Balcers ranks T-ninth in the AHL among first-year players in points (31), T-10th in assists (19), and T-17th in goals (12). Balcers leads the Barracuda in points, assists, and goals and has three points (one goal, two assists) in three games against Tucson, which paces the team.
Power Punch: The Barracuda rank second in the Pacific Division in home power play percentage (18.2%), only behind the San Diego Gulls (25.7%) who have the best power play in the league. Against Tucson, San Jose is three-for-11 on the man-advantage this season and a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill.
Blueline Bolster: For the AHL’s 22nd youngest team, veteran blueliner Paul Martin has provided San Jose’s backend a veteran boost. The 14-year NHLer has skated in 859 games in the National League with New Jersey, Pittsburg, and San Jose, collecting 318 points (50 goals, 268 assists), 236 penalty minutes, and a plus-119 rating. Aside from Martin, San Jose does not have a single defenseman with more than three years of pro experience.
Captain Salute: Monday will mark the final game before Barracuda Captain John McCarthy heads off to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympics, which will run from February 9-to-25. McCarthy is one of three AHL players (Chris Bourque – Hershey, Bobby Butler – Milwaukee) on Team USA. The 31-year-old spent four years at Boston University from 2006-to-2010, winning an NCAA National Championship as the team’s captain in 2012. McCarthy has skated in 478 career AHL games with Chicago, Worcester, and San Jose over his nine-year pro career, accumulating 253 points (109 goals, 144 assists), 195 penalty minutes, and a plus-53 rating.
All-Star Antoine: In his fourth professional season, and first within the Sharks organization, AHL All-Star Antoine Bibeau, 23, is 14-8-1 in 25 games played with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. The native of Victoriaville, Quebec is T-second in the AHL in shutouts (3), fifth in goals-against average and T-sixth in save percentage. Bibeau is coming off a 30 save shutout at Stockton last Friday and is 1-1 against Tucson in his career.
Winners For Wiederer: Barracuda rookie forward Manuel Wiederer has four goals this season for San Jose, all game winners.
700 For Sommer: San Jose Barracuda Head Coach and Bay Area native Roy Sommer collected his 700th AHL win of his career on Dec. 3 at Bakersfield, 2-1. Sommer is the first coach in the 82-year history of the American Hockey League to reach 700 coaching wins. In 2015-16, Sommer surpassed Fred “Bun” Cook as the AHL’s all-time leader in wins and collected his first A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year in 2016-17. Sommer, who’s in his AHL record 20th season behind the bench for the top affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, coached his 1,500th game in the AHL on Dec. 8 at SAP Center against Tucson.
Cuda Call Up: After last Sunday’s recall of Danny O’Regan, seven players from the Barracuda’s 2017 Calder Cup playoff roster are now on the San Jose Sharks (Danny O’Regan, Marcus Sorensen, Tim Heed, Barclay Goodrow, Timo Meier, Joakim Ryan and Kevin Labanc). A season ago, the Barracuda finished with the Western Conference’s best regular season winning percentage (.699) and advanced to the Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Grand Rapids Griffins in five games.