SEASON OPENER: BARRACUDA AT HEATOct 7, 2017
Tonight’s Matchup: The long offseason concludes on Saturday as the Barracuda kick off the 2017-18 campaign at Stockton for the second consecutive year. San Jose is 0-2 in openers all-time, 16-6-1-1 against the Heat over the last two seasons, and 6-4-1-1 at Stockton Arena.
Welcome Back: 13 players who dressed for the Barracuda in 2016-17 return in 2017-18, including the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year Troy Grosenick, and the Leagues Rookie of the Year Danny O’Regan. Grosenick went 6-3-1 against the Heat last season with a 2.30 goals-against average, and a .946 save percentage. O’Regan finished second on the Barracuda in points (five goals, six assists) against the Heat last season in 11 games. His lone NHL goal of his career came against Stockton’s NHL affiliate the Calgary Flames on April 8, 2017 (David Rittich) at SAP Center.
Big Bad Bollig: The Barracuda added some serious toughness this offseason in the form of Brandon Bollig. The 2013 Stanley Cup Champion with the Chicago Blackhawks spent all of the last season in Stockton, leading the Heat in penalty minutes (136). 44 of Bollig’s 136 penalty minutes came against the Barracuda, and the veteran forward netted two of his 11 goals against San Jose.
Familiar Faces: 19 different players who skated for the Heat in 2016-17 return for another year, including their leading goal scorer from a year ago Mark Jankowski.
Iron Man: The AHL’s Coach of the Year in 2017, Roy Sommer returns behind the bench in 2017-18 for an AHL record 20th season. Sommer led one of the Leagues youngest rosters to the Western Conference regular season crown a year ago, and an appearance in the Conference Finals. Sommer has more AHL wins (691-605-48-72-65) than any other coach in the Leagues 82-year history.
Youth Movement: Once again the Barracuda will be one of the Leagues youngest rosters with an average opening night age of 23.20. The 'Cuda have ten rookies on their 2017-18 opening night roster.