San Jose Barracuda (38-21-3-4 .629) vs. Colorado Eagles (35-26-4-1 .568)
FRI, APR. 12 | 6:05 PM
Budweiser Events Center | Loveland, CA
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Tonight’s Matchup: After securing home-ice in the first round with a 4-3 win on Wednesday at San Diego, the Barracuda kick off a two-game series with the Colorado Eagles starting on Friday to wrap the regular season. The Barracuda can still win the Pacific Division but they’ve got to gain three points on the Bakersfield Condors over the final two games. The Barracuda are 3-1-1-1 in six games against the Eagles this season and 0-0-1-1 at the Budweiser Events Center. In the last meeting, the Barracuda produced their most lopsided win in franchise history as they blasted the Avs affiliate 9-0 on March 17 at the SAP Center. In that game, seven different SJ skaters collected multi-point outings and Josef Korenar stopped all 31 Colorado shots to earn his fourth shutout of the season. The Eagles hold a one-point edge on the Tucson Roadrunners for the final Pacific playoff spot as they try to become the first Avalanche AHL affiliate to reach the Calder Cup playoffs since the 2011 Lake Erie Monsters. The Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Tucson regulation loss.
Heating Up: The Barracuda enter Friday’s tilt at Colorado riding a three-game winning streak, three-game road winning streak, and victories in six of their last seven. Colorado boasts the Pacific’s best home record (20-8-3-1 .688) and the fifth best in the AHL.
In it to win it: The Barracuda clinched its fourth Calder Cup playoff appearance in as many seasons on Saturday after a 5-4 overtime win against the Grand Rapids Griffins and a 3-2 Colorado loss at Chicago. The Barracuda are the only team in the four-year history of the Pacific Division to reach the playoffs in all four seasons.
True That: San Jose forward Alex True is just four points and two goals shy of matching the Barracuda single season record in both categories. The sophomore forward set a new franchise watermark with his sixth game-winning goal of the season on March 27. True is pacing the Barracuda in points (54), goals (23), second in assists (31), third in points-per-game (.82) and third in shots (136).
Gambo Good: Among AHL rookies, Dylan Gambrell ranks 10th in points (41), T-fifth in goals (19), T-12th in shots (142) and T-eighth in points-per-game (.90). Gambrell played collegiately in the state of the Colorado at the University of Denver, where he won a National Championship in 2017 along with Eagles forward Logan O’Connor.
Henner Heating Up: Prior to being held pointless on Wednesday, Barracuda forward T.J. Hensick had recorded points in six-straight games (two goals, six assists), his longest such streak in two years. Since joining the Barracuda in mid-February, the Howell, Michigan native has recorded five multi-point games and now has 145 in his 12-year career. Hensick appeared in his 650th AHL game last Friday.
Backend Boost: The San Jose Sharks assigned 2018 first-round pick Ryan Merkley to the Barracuda last Saturday and the rookie defenseman could make his pro debut as early as Friday at Colorado. Merkley, 19, just completed his third full season in the OHL, totaling 71 points (14 goals, 57 assists), 66 penalty minutes and a plus-four rating between the Guelph Storm and Peterborough Petes. Among OHL d-men, Merkley finished second in points, T-ninth in goals, first in assists and first in power-play assists (33).
Chek Mate: Forward Ivan Chekhovich was assigned to the Barracuda on Wednesday and scored on his first shot on Friday and added a pair of assists on Saturday. A season ago, as a 19-year-old, Chekhovich along with fellow rookie Sasha Chmelevski sparked one of the most unlikely playoff runs as the Barracuda won their final six regular season games to reach the postseason. In those six games, the Russian born forward totaled nine points (three goals, six assists) and scored his first pro goal on his first pro shot on April 4, 2018. As a member of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL this past season, Chekhovich netted four hat-tricks during the season, including a pair of four-goal efforts and was named the QMJHL Ultramar Player of the Week three different times. Chekhovich, 20, just completed his third season with Baie-Comeau, finishing second in the league in scoring (105), T-fourth in goals (43), T-third in assists (62) and fifth in points-per-game (1.59).