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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA (20-31-2-2) vs COLORADO EAGLES (30-19-4-3)
SAT., MAR. 26 | 1:15 P.M. | SAP CENTER | SAN JOSE, CA
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Home Sweet Home: On Saturday, the Barracuda continues its five-game homestand with the first of two meetings over the next three days against the Colorado Eagles to wrap up the eight-game season series. The Barracuda are 4-1-1-0 against the Eagles so far this year but are coming off a 5-0 loss in the last meeting on Dec. 22 at the Budweiser Events Center. In games starting before 5 p.m., the Barracuda are just 1-5 this season, but won 10-5 in the last matchup against Colorado at the SAP Center on Dec. 15.
Head-to-head: The Barracuda are 4-1-1-0 against the Eagles this season and 1-0-1-0 at home. Before Monday’s trade, Nick Merkley was tied with Colorado’s Dylan Sikura for the most points during head-to-head play this season at nine each. In six games against the Avs affiliate, the Barracuda have gone 7/27 (25.9%) on the power-play and 23/32 (71.9%) on the penalty-kill against Colorado and boast a lifetime record of 11-6-3-1 (H: 6-2-1-0/R: 5-4-2-1) against the Eagles. Both teams have dropped their last two games entering Saturday. The Eagles will embark on a five-game road trip beginning in San Jose and will wrap up next Friday and Saturday in Ontario.
Familiar Face: Former Anaheim Ducks prospect Kiefer Sherwood leads the Eagles in points (54), goals (27), power-play goals (11), and shots (200) and has seven points (3+4=6) in four games against San Jose so far this year. Sherwood has three helpers in his last two games and points in four of his last five (1+5=6). In his career against the Barracuda, Sherwood has notched 13 points (5+8=13) in 14 games between San Diego and Colorado.
Trade Winds: The Sharks made multiple moves before Monday’s trade deadline 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. The Sharks also dealt blueliner Jake Middleton to the Minnesota Wild for a fifth-rounder in 2022 and the 2020 AHL Goalie of the Year Kaapo Kahkonen. Middleton is the Barracuda’s franchise leader in penalty minutes (273) and ranks second in games played (228). In corresponding moves, the Sharks recalled forward Sasha Chmelevski and defenseman Ryan Merkley and reassigned goaltender Zachary Sawchenko.
Blistering Blichy: Barracuda forward Joachim Blichfeld has 20 goals on the year and 10 of them on the power-play. 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 is just one goal shy of matching Danny O’Regan’s single-season record for the most power-play goals scored in a season, which was set in 2016-17. Blichfeld is t-first on the team in points (37), first in goals, t-first in power-play goals, first in shots (160), and first in shootout goals (3).
Three Phases: Despite going 0-for-9 on the PP over its last two games, the Barracuda’s man-advantage ranks eighth in the league (20.9%) and second on home ice (24.6%). On the other side, the penalty kill went 4-for-5 on Thursday and is now 55-for-62 over its last 16 games (88%). Despite not scoring a shorthanded goal since Jan. 14 (John Leonard), the Barracuda still rank t-fifth in the AHL in shorties this season.
Montana Tough: Rookie d-man Montana Onyebuchi dropped the gloves last Friday for the third time in as many games and now leads all rookies in fighting majors (10) and penalty minutes (108). Onyebuchi is 14 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 Saturday for accruing his 10th 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 1,730 games in the AHL, going 808-710-50-162 (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).