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Barracuda at Heat Preview: The Heat is on

The Barracuda will stay in the kitchen, because they can take the Heat.

Bryan Del Fava, Fear the Fin

The Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliates the San Jose Barracuda head back to Stockton for the second meeting of the season with the Stockton Heat, AHL affiliates of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames. After a 4-6 victory last weekend, the Barracuda currently lead the season series with their single win. The Heat have not played since the aforementioned game, while the Barracuda faced off against the Tucson Roadrunners in a shootout win on Monday.

Barracuda Backup goaltender Josef Korenar will likely start. Korenar started the previous game and win against the Heat, and boasts a rather impressive 2.51 goals against average and .921 save percentage across both of his AHL games this season. In case another glove hand is needed, regular Antoine Bibeau will likely be operating the bench door until called upon.

Making an early and unexpected impact is former Binghamton and Belleville Senator Francis Perron, who has also had a pretty remarkable season thus far. The left winger has already scored 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) and matched his goal total with the B-Sens last season over his first five games with the Cuda. Perron was acquired by the Sharks organization in a late off-season trade in exchange for assets which included winger Rudolfs Balcers.

The Barracuda will need to take particular care with Kerby Rychel, a left winger who scored a hat trick entirely during the third period of their previous meeting. The 24-year-old forward was signed to a one-year contract by the Flames organization late in the off-season, after stints in the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens organizations. Rychel does have some offensive upside at the AHL level, currently scoring at a goal-per-game pace. Tyler Graovac and Spencer Foo have also had strong offensive starts to their AHL seasons; both are currently scoring at or just above a point-per-game pace.

The Heat will likely start goaltender Jon Gillies, who at press time has played more games for Stockton and lost fewer games against the Barracuda this season. This is Gillies’ fourth season with the Heat after being drafted with the Flames in 2012. So far this season, he has posted a 5.06 goals against average and a .831 save percentage, which may be a slow start. Over his 39 games with the Heat during the 2017-2018 season, Gillies posted a 2.53 goals against average and a .917 save percentage; his future performance may trend towards or exceed these numbers. Tyler Parsons started the previous contest against the Barracuda, and allowed five goals on 23 shots before being replaced by Gillies.

The Barracuda currently have four wins and one shootout loss, leading the AHL’s Pacific Division. The Heat presently have a singular win, two losses, and an overtime loss. The Barracuda have the upper fin pretty handily, but one should never underestimate an opponent. The puck drops at Stockton Arena at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. If you’re not there, you also have the option of watching live via AHLTV, or listening through the Sharks and SAP Center App.