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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (2-1-1-0) at STOCKTON HEAT (4-1-0-0)
SUN., OCT. 31 | 5:00 P.M. | Stockton Arena | Stockton, CA
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Heat is On: After not facing each other in 2020-21, the Barracuda and Stockton Heat square off for the first time since March 10, 2020, marking a 600-day gap between games. Sunday’s outing is the first of 10 on the season series and the first of back-to-back matchups between the Northern California rivals. The Barracuda are 34-19-3-2 lifetime against the Flames’ affiliate and 16-9-2-2 at the Stockton Arena. Prior to Sunday, the Barracuda have never played on Halloween.
Heat Check: Heat forward, and 2019 first rounder, Jakob Pelletier is off to a strong start in his first season of pro. Through four games, the Quebec native has seven points (2+5=7) which ranks T-first among all Stockton skaters. In 2020-21, Pelletier earned First All-Star honors in the QMJHL and skated for Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championships, earning a silver medal.
Frenemies: After being traded from the Sharks to the Golden Knights during last season’s trade deadline, and eventually finishing up the year in Rochester with the Americans, former Barracuda defenseman Nick DeSimone inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Calgary Flames this past summer. So far, DeSimone has four points (1+3=4) through five games with the Heat. In Cuda franchise history, DeSimone ranks fourth in games played (190), points (91) and assists (65).
First of Many: On Saturday, Sharks d-man prospect Ryan Merkley made his NHL debut against the Winnipeg Jets, earning 16:11 of ice time in a 2-1 overtime win. The second-year pro has gotten off to a fabulous start with the Barracuda, earning assists in each of his last three games and ranks T-third among league defenders in helpers (4). Merkley has averaged over 25 minutes per-game so far this season which leads the team.
Powering Up: After beginning the season 0-for-7 on the power-play through the team’s first two games, the Barracuda have scored two PP goals in each of its last two outings. Nick Merkley, who leads the Barracuda with five points (2+3=5), has been in on half (1+1=2) of those. The Barracuda also have man-advantage tallies from Scott Reedy, John Leonard and Noah Gregor.
Sommer Time: Head Coach Roy Sommer returns for his AHL-best 24th season in 2021-22 and his 26th within the Sharks organization. The Oakland, Calif. native has been behind the bench for 1,678 games, going 790-680-49-159 (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 in a 4-2 win over the Ontario Reign on Feb. 10, 2016.