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Match Maker: On Wednesday, the Barracuda collide with the Tucson Roadrunners for the fifth of eight meetings on the season. The Valentine’s Day tilt marks the final game of a five-game home stand for San Jose and a six-game road trip for Tucson. The Barracuda are 2-1-0-1 against the Arizona Coyotes affiliate this year but are 0-1-0-1 on home ice. The Roadrunners are 4-1-0-0 on their road trip and have won three straight.
Long-Distance Relationship: The Tucson Roadrunners enter Wednesday’s matchup with the Western Conferences best road winning percentage (16-4-1-1 .773), and are 15-2-0 in their last 17 road games.
Good Chemistry: Tucson rookies Dylan Strome and Nick Merkley were each selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft by Arizona and both were members of Team Pacific at this years AHL All-Star Classic in Utica. Merkley and Strome rank one and two in rookie points-per-game (1.21, 1.20), rookie power-play goals (11, eight), and are T-third in goals scored among first-year players. Also, each forward has appeared in at least one game this year with the Coyotes.
Cheap Date: The Barracuda have been stingy on the penalty kill this year, ranking first in the Pacific Division (83.4%) and 12th in the AHL. Against Tucson, the Barracuda are 14-for-15 (93.3%) on the kill.
Roses For Rudy: Rookie All-Star Rudolfs Balcers ranks T-12th in the AHL among first-year players in points (31), T-11th in assists (19), and T-18th in goals (12). Balcers leads the Barracuda in points, assists, and goals and has three points (one goal, two assists) in four games against Tucson.
Paul’s Passion: 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. With Martin in the lineup, the Barracuda average .53 fewer goals against per-game and their penalty kill is 91.7%, which would rank first in the AHL.
C Is For Cupid: San Jose Barracuda Captain John McCarthy and Team USA opened Olympic play on Wednesday morning against Slovenia, falling 3-2 in overtime. McCarthy recorded zero points and was a minus-one in the game. The Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament will run from February 14-24. McCarthy is in his ninth year of pro hockey, appearing in 88 games with the San Jose Sharks, and 454 games of his 479 AHL career between the Worcester Sharks and San Jose Barracuda. Over the last two seasons, McCarthy has missed just two games with the Barracuda.
All-World Antoine: In his fourth professional season, and first within the Sharks organization, AHL All-Star Antoine Bibeau is 14-9-2 in 27 games played with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. The native of Victoriaville, Quebec is fifth in the AHL in shutouts (3), fifth in goals-against average and ninth in save percentage. Bibeau is 1-1-1 against the ‘Runners this year with a 2.61 goals-against average, and a .900 save percentage.
Romantic Roy: 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.