Welcome to the Barracuda Brief, your weekly one-stop shop for updates on the San Jose Barracuda. The Barracuda Brief will feature recaps, team news, quotes and other features to keep you up to date on the American Hockey League affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
The Week That Was: Moose Hunting in Silicon Valley
The Barracuda were relentless in a two-game homestand against the Manitoba Moose. Troy Grosenick once again showed why he’s the Barracuda’s MVP with another shutout. Newcomer Clarke Saunders was able to get a second win in as many nights for a win his in AHL debut.
March 31: San Jose Barracuda 3 – Manitoba Moose 0
An MVP-worthy season by Grosenick added a bit more to the resume with another solid performance.
The Barracuda came off a five-day layoff and were sluggish in the first period. Pucks were in feet, the timing was off and play was sloppy overall. Both teams only recorded six shots on goal in the opening period.
The Barracuda used a three-goal middle stanza to put the Moose behind the eightball. Goals from Nikita Jevpalovs, Ryan Carpenter and Danny O’Regan put the game out of reach for the last-place Moose. Grosenick was sharp in the late stages of the match to preserve the shutout as the Barracuda were outshot 10-7 in the final period. He finished with 26 saves for his AHL-leading 10th shutout of the 2016-17 campaign.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) April 1, 2017
“Tonight was easy, the defense was great,” said Grosenick after the victory. “I think [Joakim Ryan] blocked six shots with his stick alone in the third period. It seemed like every few seconds I was telling him ‘good stick.’ When they play like that, it makes my job easy. It’s been the story of the season.”
April 1: San Jose Barracuda 6 – Manitoba Moose 3
The Barracuda shook off the rust from the first game and quickly took hold of the final game of the season series against Manitoba. First period goals from Buddy Robinson and Ryan Carpenter rewarded a swarming Barracuda offense that peppered Jamie Phillips with 21 shots in the opening 20 minutes of action. On the other end of the ice, Clarke Saunder went nearly nine minutes without facing his first shot.
“I didn’t really have much of a chance to get the nerves out until the middle of the first period,” said Saunders after his first AHL win. “But it was great; the guys really battled hard. Obviously, with our first period, it was an unbelievable way to start and let me ease my way into it. I want to thank them for working their butts off tonight.”
The Moose came out for the middle frame with their best period of action. Kevin Kzuczman broke the scoring drought on the power play as he put back the Patrice Cormier shot with the man advantage. The Barracuda answered with a power-play goal of their own, this time off the stick of Joakim Ryan for his 10th marker of the year. The Moose power play, which was 3-for-4 on the night, got its second from Dan DeSalvo to keep narrow the lead to a goal.
San Jose and Manitoba traded goals in the early going of the final period. Zach Stortini scored a rare goal to make it 4-2. The penalty kill failed again when Kyle Connor put his 23rd of the year as Saunders kicked out a rebound right to the speedy winger to close the gap yet again.
Rourke Chartier, centering Adam Helewka and Buddy Robinson, notched their line’s second of the night with all three recoding points on Chartier’s 17th of the year.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) April 2, 2017
“It’s just we’re all buying in. I’m playing with some younger guys, and they’re willing to do everything the coach and the team asking them. I couldn’t be happier playing with them,” sadi Robinson of his line combination. “We’re a consistent line, and it starts in our [defensive] zone. When it gets to the offensive part, I think we’re going out there getting pucks low to high. We’re letting the defense shoot it and get some greasy goals like we did tonight.”
Barracuda captain John McCarthy iced the game with an empty-net goal and completed the season sweep over the Moose.
New Guys On The Ice, In the Building
Two new Barracuda players made their AHL debuts with the club in the final game of the weekend. Nick DeSimone, recently of the Union Dutchmen, played in his first AHL game as the seventh defenseman. He skated sparingly, but the scouting reports on his high-end skating appear accurate. Right-handed, offensively minded with good wheels and size checks a lot of boxes when looking for defensive prospects in the new NHL.
Recently signed netminder Saunders made his first start. Saunders came to the Barracuda from the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. Rebounds were an issue for him all night, but first game jitters likely were not helping either.
The Barracuda are also rumored to be close to signing to 23-year-old Army goalie Parker Gahagen. His numbers are solid on an often outplayed Army team but a .937 and .936 save percentage in his junior and senior years, respectively, are encouraging.
The Playoff Picture
The Barracuda regained first place in the AHL in terms of winning percentage with the four-point week. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fell to .700 and the Barracuda jumped up to .718. The Stockton Heat are on fire and currently tied with the Bakersfield Condors for the final playoff slot. The Heat and Condors are tied in wins (31), winning percentage (.548) and regulation/overtime wins (30). It doesn’t get much closer than that for the final spot in the division.
On the Schedule: California Dreamin’
The Barracuda stay in the Golden State all week with three games. San Jose takes on the Ontario Reign on Wednesday before a weekend series against the Stockton Heat.