San Jose Barracuda (39-21-3-4 .634) vs. Colorado Eagles (35-27-4-1 .560)
SAT, APR. 13 | 6:05 PM
Budweiser Events Center | Loveland, CO
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Tonight’s Matchup: After Friday’s win over Colorado, the Barracuda wrap up the regular season with another meeting against the Eagles at the Budweiser Events Center on Saturday. The Barracuda can still win the Pacific Division but they must gain one point on the Bakersfield Condors over the final two games. The Condors have a game in hand and hold the tiebreaker so the Barracuda have to finish with more points. San Jose is 4-1-1-1 in seven games against the Eagles this season and 1-0-1-1 at the BEC. Colorado has to win on Saturday and have Tucson lose in regulation in order to reach the playoffs. The Avalanche have not sent their AHL affiliate to the Calder Cup playoffs since the 2011 Lake Erie Monsters.
Heating Up: The Barracuda enter Friday’s tilt at Colorado riding a four-game winning streak, four-game road winning streak, and victories in seven of their last eight. Only San Jose has a better home winning percentage than Colorado in the Pacific.
In it to win it: The Barracuda clinched its fourth Calder Cup playoff appearance in as many seasons last Saturday after a 5-4 overtime win against the Grand Rapids Griffins and a 3-2 Colorado loss at Chicago. The Barracuda are the only team in the four-year history of the Pacific Division to reach the playoffs in all four seasons. If San Jose were to win the Pacific, they would be the first team in the Division’s history to accomplish that feat.
True That: San Jose forward Alex True is just four points and two goals shy of matching the Barracuda single-season record in both categories. The sophomore forward set a new franchise watermark with his sixth game-winning goal of the season on March 27. True is pacing the Barracuda in points (54), goals (23), second in assists (31), third in points-per-game (.81) and third in shots (136).
Dynamic Dezy: Nick DeSimone netted his 14th goal of the season on Friday and now ranks T-sixth among all AHL d-men in goals, T-sixth in points (46), 12th in assists (32), 10th in shots (154), and T-eighth in power-play goals (5). DeSimone’s 14 tallies are the most for a Barracuda defenseman in a single season since Tim Heed netted 14 goals in 2016-17.
Gambo Good: Among AHL rookies, Dylan Gambrell ranks T-seventh in points (42), T-fourth in goals (20), 13th in shots (145) and ninth in points-per-game (.90). Gambrell played collegiately in the state of Colorado at the University of Denver, where he won a National Championship in 2017 along with Eagles forward Logan O’Connor.
Henner Heating Up: Prior to being held pointless on Wednesday, Barracuda forward T.J. Hensick had recorded points in six straight games (two goals, six assists), his longest such streak in two years. On Friday, Hensick picked up the primary helper on Dylan Gambrell’s third-period insurance goal and now has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 23 games played. Since joining the Barracuda in mid-February, the Howell, Michigan native has recorded five multi-point games and now has 145 in his 12-year career. Hensick appeared in his 650th AHL game last Friday.
Backend Boost: San Jose Sharks 2018 first-round pick Ryan Merkley made his pro debut on Friday as he recorded a pair of shots in San Jose’s 3-1 win at Colorado. Merkley, 19, just completed his third full season in the OHL, totaling 71 points (14 goals, 57 assists), 66 penalty minutes and a plus-four rating between the Guelph Storm and Peterborough Petes. Among OHL d-men, Merkley finished second in points, T-ninth in goals, first in assists and first in power-play assists (33).
Chek Mate: Forward Ivan Chekhovich was assigned to the Barracuda on Wednesday and scored on his first shot on Friday and added a pair of assists on Saturday. A season ago, as a 19-year-old, Chekhovich along with fellow rookie Sasha Chmelevski sparked one of the most unlikely playoff runs as the Barracuda won their final six regular season games to reach the postseason. In those six games, the Russian born forward totaled nine points (three goals, six assists) and scored his first pro goal on his first pro shot on April 4, 2018. As a member of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL this past season, Chekhovich netted four hat-tricks during the season, including a pair of four-goal efforts and was named the QMJHL Ultramar Player of the Week three different times. Chekhovich, 20, just completed his third season with Baie-Comeau, finishing second in the league in scoring (105), T-fourth in goals (43), T-third in assists (62) and fifth in points-per-game (1.59).