Mar 16, 2022

Hey, Cuda Country! Hope all is well. The cat is out of the bag. The Barracuda’s future home officially has a name… Tech CU Arena.

“On Tuesday, Sharks Sports & Entertainment announced that it has reached a 10-year agreement with Tech CU (@TechCU) to become the naming rights partner of the team’s state-of-the-art, 4,200-seat arena being constructed at Sharks Ice at San Jose. The naming rights partnership was voted on and approved unanimously by the San Jose City Council.”

This is a major development and a massive deal for the organization. It’s the first of many steps towards growing the team’s footprint and refreshing the brand. Because the Barracuda have played out of the SAP Center for its first seven years of existence, it’s fair to say that business opportunities and exclusive partnerships have been greatly inhibited.

That will all change at Tech CU Arena.

This announcement is one of many over the coming months. As Eric Grundfast, Director of Business Operations for the Barracuda, said in a one-on-one interview with Teal Town USA last week, there are lots of things in the works including potential new uniforms, select TV broadcasts, expanded food & beverage options, and so on.

The great quote from Kevin Costner in Field of Dream seems appropriate right about now: “If you build it, they will come”

As someone who has now worked for the team for six years, I can say firsthand the changes have been apparent already. In just the last six months, we’ve expanded our staff by 12 full-time positions. Almost every role did not exist before this year. It’s all in preparation for the Barracuda’s move from SAP Center to Tech CU Arena.

The expanded staff will have a direct and positive impact on our fans. More giveaways, better theme nights, exclusive events, increased social and behind-the-scenes content, and an overall improved experience.

It it clear that corners won't be cut. The organization has complutetly bought in and is moving full-stream ahead. The Barracuda will not only live up to its mantra of "affordable family fun" but the experience for fans will rival almost every top team in the AHL.

Without putting it any other way, I seriously can’t wait for the move and am extremely proud to be a part of this group.

Now of Never:

The Barracuda are arguably playing its best hockey of the season. Prior to Saturday, the club had recorded points in five-straight games (3-0-1-1) for the first time this year. The unfortunate part is, they twice had two-goal leads on Stockton over the past weekend and managed just one point.

Now the Barracuda will embark on a three-game trip in Tucson beginning tonight (Wednesday) and it will essentially serve as a de-facto playoff series since both clubs sit outside of the playoffs (39 points each), five points behind San Diego who holds the last spot the Pacific Division. It’s now or never, sink or swim.

Tucson is limping its way into this three-game set having dropped all five games on its five-game road trip (0-3-2) and have lost six consecutive overall (0-4-2). The Roadrunners will be without its top two forwards tonight, as both Matias Maccelli and Michael Carcone are currently in the NHL with the Coyotes. Maccelli has a really chance to win the AHL’s Rookie of the Year award. He’s first among freshmen in points (55), assists (41), power-play points (28), and second in power-play assists (23).

The Roadrunners boast a top-10 power-play, but no Maccelli or Carcone will certainly limit head coach Jay Varady’s options on the PP. Tucson has struggled in almost every facet this season as the club has dealt with a plethora of injuries, along with COVID-19 impacts and recalls. Just three of Tucson’s six defensemen are under NHL contracts, and two of the three are on tryouts. The Roadrunners are 30th in goals-for (2.65), 30th in goals-against (3.96), an AHL-worst -64 goal-differential, last on the penalty-kill (74.3%), and are last when scoring first (10-9-3=.593). Like the rest of the group, the goaltending position has been wildly inconsistent. Former Sharks prospect Josef Korenar just returned from a stint in the ECHL with the Rapid City Rush and Ivan Prosvetov has dropped a league-worst 16 games and is 0-3-2 over his last five.

So, what do you do with stats like that, you throw them out. The next three contests should resemble playoff-type games. For both these teams, almost every game down the final stretch will be must-win. After Wednesday, the Barracuda will have just 17 games remaining in the regular season, while Tucson will have 18. Both teams have the same Magic Number, 46.

Should be a ton of fun. Puck drop is set for 6:30 and we’ll have pregame coverage beginning at 6 on the Sharks Audio Network and That’ll do it for this edition of Nolly’s Notes. Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you all next week.

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