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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (0-1-1-0) vs TEXAS STARS (2-1-0-0)
FRIDAY, FEB. 12 | 5:00 P.M. PT | H-E-B Center | Cedar Park, TX
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Everything Is Bigger In Texas: On Friday, the Barracuda kickoff three games against the Texas Stars over a five-day stretch. It marks the first meeting between the Sharks and Stars affiliates since the 2018-19 season. That year the Barracuda won both games against Texas, including a 6-1 win at the H-E-B Center on Oct. 27, 2018. In that game, Antoine Bibeau made 20 saves on 21 shots and six different skaters scored for San Jose, including current members, Jayden Halbgewachs and Nick DeSimone.
Movin’ on Up: On Thursday, the Sharks recalled defenseman Jake Middleton, forward John Leonard, and goaltender Alexei Melnichuk. Leonard and Middleton started the season with the Sharks, while Melnichuk began the year on the team’s taxi squad. Leonard recorded a goal and an assist in both of the Barracuda’s first wot games, while Melnichuk suffered losses in each of his first two AHL starts.
New Faces: Once again, in 2020-21, the Barracuda will boast one of the youngest rosters in the AHL. In total, there were 14 rookies on San Jose’s opening-night roster, and nine different players made their AHL debut. The group of first-year pros is headlined by 2020 early-round selections Ozzy Weisblatt (round one, 31st overall) and Tristen Robins (round two, 56th overall) as well as 2018 draft-picks Ryan Merkley (round one, 21st overall) and John Leonard (round six, 182nd overall).
Johnny Boy: Barracuda rookie John Leonard scored in his AHL debut on Sunday. Leonard, a 2019 Hobey Baker Finalist and 2018 Sharks draft pick, stormed down the left wing in the early stages of the third period and beat Tucson’s Ivan Prosvetov through the five-hole. The UMASS product collected two points (assist) in his NHL debut for the Sharks on Jan. 13, 2021, at Arizona.
Dazzling Danes: Alexander True scored twice on Monday and Joachim Blichfeld added a goal and an assist. It was True’s sixth multi-goal effort of his Barracuda career, and one point off a career-high for Blichfeld. True led the Barracuda two seasons ago with 24 goals, while Blichfeld was an AHL All-Star during his rookie season last year.
The Return of Roy Sommer: The 2019-20 season saw long-time Barracuda bench-boss Roy Sommer become a part of the San Jose Sharks coaching staff. Sommer will return to his role behind the bench for the Barracuda this season and will look to add to his AHL-record 773 wins. Also returning to the Barracuda coaching staff are assistants Michael Chiasson and Jimmy Bonneau. Long-time Barracuda captain John McCarthy will enter his first season as a development coach after serving as an assistant last year following his retirement.
Bolstering the Blueline: The Barracuda brought in several veteran pieces to help with blue-line depth and leadership in 2020-21. The group includes, former Gulls' captain Jaycob Megna, 2017 Calder Cup Champion Robbie Russo, and former Kings draft pick Chaz Reddekopp.
Familiar Faces: The Barracuda enter the 2020-21 season returning three of their top-five point getters from 2019-20. Jayden Halbgewachs who led the team in goals (19) returns for his third pro campaign. While Jeffrey Viel (13+17=30) and Joachim Blichfeld (16+16=32) are also back in the fold.
Between the Pipes: After last Friday’s recall of Josef Korenar and Thursday’s recall of Alexei Melnichuk, the Barracuda are now down to sophomore Zach Sawchenko and rookie Sam Harvey. Harvey spent 2019-20 at the University of New Brunswick in Canada where his was a USports All-Rookie Teamer. The season prior, Harvey helped the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies capture a Memorial Cup Championship, going 35-8-0 during the regular season.
Oh Captain: On Saturday, Jaycob Megna was named the third captain in San Jose Barracuda history. 2020-21 will mark the 28-year-olds first season with the team. Megna does boast a leadership background, serving as an alternate captain for the Chicago Wolves last season under current Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson. He was also the captain of the San Diego Gulls in 2018-19.