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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (20-34-2-2) vs STOCKTON HEAT (39-12-4-1)
SAT., APR. 2 | 6:00 P.M. | STOCKTON ARENA | STOCKTON, CA
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Simmering Down: The Barracuda and Stockton Heat wrap up its 10-game season series on Saturday and Sunday with a home-and-road, beginning on Saturday night at the Stockton Arena. The Barracuda enter the weekend having dropped its last five consecutive games and its last five against the Heat (0-3-1-1). In eight games this year, the Barracuda are 1-5-1-1 versus the Flames affiliate, collecting its only win on Dec. 31 on the road (4-0 W). In the eight games, the Barracuda have been outscored 27-19 and are coming off a 3-1 loss at the SAP Center on March 22, the time the two clubs connected.
Heat Index: The top team in the AHL has already secured a playoff berth but is coming off a 2-1 defeat against the Colorado Eagles on Wednesday and are now 7-3 over its last 10 and 14-5-1 in its last 20. Wednesday’s regulation loss was just the Heat’s fifth all season on home ice but the second over the last three games. Stockton’s .767 (21-5-4-0) home winning percentage is the best in the AHL. After Saturday, Stockton will have just three more home games left in the regular season and 11 games remaining in total. The Heat has the best record in the AHL when it scores the first goal (.864), something they have not done in the last three games against the Barracuda but still managed to collect wins in all three matchups. The Heat boast the AHL’s best penalty kill, have a league-high 13 shorthanded goals, and rank second in goals-for (3.66), and third in goals-against (2.68).
Wolf of Wallstreet: Gilroy native Dustin Wolf is a perfect 6-0 against the ‘Cuda so far this year, with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Wolf is first in the AHL in wins (29), fifth in GAA (2.30, and second in SV% (.925). He is coming off a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Wednesday but had won the prior three and seven in a row at home.
Major Movement: The Sharks made multiple moves before the NHL trade deadline two weeks ago, including deals that impacted the Barracuda. The club traded forward Nick Merkley, who was second on the team in scoring and first in assists, to the New York Rangers for veteran d-man Anthony Bitetto. In addition, the org traded goalie Alexei Melnichuk to the Tampa Bay Lightning for former San Diego Gulls forward Antoine Morand. On Monday, before the AHL’s deadline, the Barracuda shipped d-man Mark Alt to the Rochester Americans for forward Mason Jobst. In total, the Barracuda have deployed 48 different players (six goalies, 42 skaters) this year, which is just one shy of the most ever used in a single season. Since opening night on Oct. 17 in Bakersfield, just seven players remain on the roster and five of the 19 who appeared on opening night are no longer in the organization (Nick Merkley, Dylan Gambrell, Alexei Melnichuk, Mark Alt, Joel Kellman).
Blistering Blichy: Barracuda forward Joachim Blichfeld has 22 goals on the year and 11 of them on the power-play as he scored for the second consecutive game on Wednesday morning against Ontario. The third-year pro is the 10th player in franchise history to reach 20+ goals in a year and the first since Alex True (24) and Dylan Gambrell (20) in 2018-19. The Denmark native matched Danny O’Regan’s single-season record for the most power-play goals scored on Wednesday, which was set in 2016-17. Blichfeld is first on the team in points (39), first in goals, first in power-play goals, first in shots (170), and first in shootout goals (3). Blichfeld is 15 shots shy of Joakim Ryan’s (185) single-season record.
Fine Wein: Fourth-year pro Evan Weinger is having career season; the SoCal native notched his 12th goal of the year on Wednesday and added an assist. Weinger has now set single-season career highs in goals (12), assists (12), and points (24). He is also tied for first on the team in shorthanded goals (3).
Montana Tough: Rookie d-man Montana Onyebuchi dropped the gloves on Saturday and now leads all rookies in fighting majors (11) and penalty minutes (113). Onyebuchi is 9 PIMS shy of matching Alex Gallant’s (122) rookie record which was set in the team's inaugural season (2015-16). Due to league rules, Onyebuchi had to serve a one-game suspension on Monday for accruing his 11th fighting major of the year. Every subsequent fight this season with garner a one-game suspension.
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 1,732 games in the AHL, going 808-713-50-162 (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).