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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (16-28-1-0) vs STOCKTON HEAT (30-9-4-1)
SAT., MAR. 5 | 6:00 P.M. | STOCKTON ARENA | STOKTON, CA
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Heat Check: The Barracuda hit the road for just one game on Saturday to face the top team in the AHL, the Stockton Heat. Saturday’s tilt marks the fifth meeting on the 10-game season series, the third in the Port City, and the first of four in the month of March. Despite falling 2-1 in overtime on Friday, the Flames affiliate is still 7-2-1-0 over its last 10 games and boasts the second-best home record in the AHL (16-3-4-0=.783%).
Marching Along: The Barracuda are set to play 14 games in the month of March, matching the most games played in a single month in franchise history. After Saturday, the club will have 20 games left, 12 at home and five more against the Heat. The San Diego Gulls, who are holding onto the final playoff spot in the Pacific, lost 7-4 on Friday at Colorado, ending a three-game winning streak, and are now seven points ahead of the Barracuda with one game in hand. The Gulls will face Colorado for the third-straight game on Saturday night, while the Tucson Roadrunners who are also fighting for the last playoff spot will be in Bakersfield.
Nick at Nite: After a 13-game goalless drought from Jan. 14 to Feb. 19, Nick Merkley has scored in his last three games, including the game-winning goal against the Condors on Wednesday, and is riding a four-game point streak (3+3=6). In two games played against the Heat this year, Merkley has a goal and assist.
Great Dane: Joachim Blichfeld notched his 16th goal of the year on Wednesday and his seventh on the power-play. The third-year forward is second on the team in goals (16), fourth in assists (14), t-first in points (30), second in power-play goals (7), and first in shots (128). Against the Heat, he leads the team with three points (2+1=3) in four games.
About Wednesday Night: The Barracuda snapped a four-game skid at home on Wednesday with a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors. It marked the first regulation victory since Jan. 23. The club finished the game 2-for-6 on the power-play and 4-for-4 on the kill. The Barracuda twice led by a goal before Nick Merkley netted the game-winner with 1:35 left in regulation. Zach Emond notched his second win of the year by making 23 saves on 26 shots.
Heating Up: The Stockton Heat enter Saturday’s matchup as the top team in the AHL and boast the third-best offense (3.48 goals-for) and second-best defense (2.61 goals-against) in the league. The Heat have dropped its last two outings (0-1-1-0) and are just 5-3-2-0 over its last 10 games on home ice, after beginning the season 11-0-2-0 at home. The Barracuda’s only win against the Heat in four tries came at the Stockton Arena on Dec. 31 (4-0 W). Before its last two losses, Stockton had won four-straight games and seven of eight. When scoring the game’s first goal, the Flames affiliate is a league-best 21-3-0 (.907). Rookie forward Jakob Pelletier ranks t-third among freshman in scoring (41), t-third in goals (16), fourth in shots (130), first in game-winning goals (6) and goaltender Dustin Wolf is first in the AHL in wins (22), fourth in minutes played (1743), fourth in saves (817), fifth in goals-against average (2.31) and second in save percentage (.924). Wolf, a native of Gilroy, is 3-0 against the Barracuda with a 1.00 GAA and .964%. He is coming off a loss in his last outing (2/27/22 @ ABB, 2-6 L) in which he allowed four goals on 16 shots.
Sommer Time: On Jan. 8, 2022, head coach Roy Sommer picked up AHL victory #800 with a 6-3 win over the Henderson Silver Knights. The Oakland, Calif., native has been behind the bench for 1,720 games in the AHL, going 805-707-48-160 (W-L-T-OTL/SOL) over that span. During the 2015-16 season, the Barracuda’s first in San Jose, Sommer surpassed Fred “Bun” Cook (636 wins) for the most wins in AHL history, notching a 4-2 victory on Feb. 10, 2016, over Ontario. Sommer collected his 700th win on Dec. 3, 2017, at Bakersfield (2-1 W).