NOLLY'S NOTES - BLOG #21Aug 2, 2022
Hello Cuda Country, hope you are all doing well.
Just as I was about to press publish, the Flames announced it's new AHL team name and logo. Drum roll, please... the Calgary Wranglers. To be honest, I like it. I just figured they'd keep the Heat nickname but Wranglers is a fitting change for a club playing out of the Saddledome. Although, Heat would have worked fine with its parent club of course being the Flames.
The regular-season schedule is officially out, so I figured let’s break it down. In total, the Barracuda will play 72 games, marking the first time since the Pacific Division was created in 2015 that every team in the league will play the same number of games. In other words, teams in the Pacific Division will play four additional games than in years past (previously 68), and the rest of the league will play four fewer games than in years past (previously 76).
People ask me all the time why there is an unbalanced schedule in the league, and it boils down to development. When NHL clubs agreed to move out west and form a new AHL division, they wanted to ensure that development was the top priority. Three games in three nights were scrapped and the schedule was shrunk to 68 games. That philosophy hasn’t changed but the league and its teams had to come to a sweet spot that was fair for all. After years of negotiation, it is finally here.
What I’m excited about this year is the diversity of the schedule. For the first time since the 2017-18 season, the Barracuda will face 11 different opponents this year including the newest club in the AHL, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, eight times. Additionally, the team will make its way up to Canada on three different occasions to take on the Wranglers and Abbotsford Canucks.
The Barracuda will also play a pair of teams outside of the Pacific, facing the Iowa Wild four times, including twice to begin the season in Des Moines on Oct. 14 & Oct. 15, and four games against the Texas Stars.
The regular-season home opener is Sat., Oct. 22 against the Henderson Silver Knights. In total, the Barracuda will play nine home games on Friday, 12 home games on Saturday, and six home games on Sunday (*note all Saturday games will begin at 6 p.m. or earlier).
Notable matchups: The team’s first and only trip to Calgary to take on the Flames' top affiliate at Scotiabank Saddledome will be Nov. 6 and Nov. 8. The first game against Roy Sommer and the San Diego Gulls is set for Nov. 16 at Tech CU Arena, and the first-ever matchup against the Firebirds is Dec. 9 at the Tech.
Iowa Wild – 4x
Texas Stars – 4x
Abbotsford Canucks – 8x
Bakersfield Condors – 8x
Calgary Wranglers – 4x
Coachella Valley Firebirds – 8x
Colorado Eagles – 8x
Henderson Silver Knights – 8x
Ontario Reign – 8x
San Diego Gulls – 4x
Tucson Roadrunners – 8x
The Barracuda also announced its preseason schedule which will be comprised of a pair of games on Fri., Oct. 7 at Bakersfield and Sat. Oct. 8 vs. Bakersfield. All exhibition action can be heard on the Sharks Audio Network presented by Western Digital and at SJBarracuda.com/listen (AHL TV will not be available during the preseason).
We’ll dive into positional battles for the Barracuda as we get closer to training camp, but a hot-button topic for the entire organization is the goaltending position. The Sharks currently have seven NHL-contracted goaltenders in the org who are expected to be at camp. Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer, Adin Hill, Eutu Makiniemi, Strauss Mann, Zach Emond, and Aaron Dell. At the AHL level, Mann, is an intriquing option for the organization at the position. He’s the ultimate underdog that has time and time again proved people wrong. I recently had a chance to sit down with the 23-year-old over video chat in the latest episode of Cuda Confidential. Check it out below.
We wrap up this edition of Nolly’s Notes by welcoming Lizz Child (@LizzChild) as the team’s first-ever Beat Writer. Lizz will be providing consistant coverage of the club through in-depth articles, along with various other audio and video contributions. Give Lizz a follow on social.
Also, Tech CU Arena is coming along quite nicely. Check it out!
That’ll do it for this edition of Nolly's Notes. Thanks for reading and so long until next time.